If green parenting web sites, organic applesauce, and reusable diapers are any indication, eco mommies are on the rise. But so are women who say that even baby feet leave a major carbon footprint. And they’re opting not to have children as a result.
Last year, Oregon State University released a study showing that going childless is a better way help the environment than recycling, driving an energy-efficient car, or using compact fluorescent bulbs. It’s 20 times more effective, in fact. Raising a kiddo in the United States can tack an extra 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to a person’s carbon legacy. By having a single child, one individual’s environmental impact will increase almost six-fold.
While some women cite the environment as their primary reason not to have children, others say it’s an added benefit to the childfree lifestyle. These women are part of the GINK movement (that’s Green Inclinations, No Kids) as coined by Lisa Hymas in an article for Grist last week. GINKs opt not to procreate for many reasons – not enough time, money, or desire, to name a few – and they see their decision as a boon to the environment.
“Here’s a simple truth,” said Hymas. “For an average person like me – someone who doesn’t have the ability of an Al Gore to reach millions, or of a Nancy Pelosi to advance (if not actually enact) landmark environmental legislation, or of a Van Jones to inspire (and piss off) whole new audiences – the single most meaningful contribution I can make to a cleaner, greener world is to not have children.”
In a 2007 article I wrote for the Colorado Springs Independent, Peter Wenker, a member of a social club for childfree couples called No Kidding, cited similar feelings. “If you are not the kind of person who wants to [parent], it’s not going to be fair, given the fact that the planet doesn’t need your kids. It’s important to make sure that if you do have kids, that it will be good for you and the planet.”
Whatever the rationale, GINKs are not alone in opting not to have children. According to U.S. census data, in 1980 just 36.7 percent of women between the ages of 18 to 44 were childless. Thirty years later, we’re up to 45 percent for a similar age bracket (15 to 44).
Going childfree isn’t for everyone, of course – most people don’t do it. What are your thoughts?