guest post by: Emily of Conservation Folks
Choosing to be Childfree to Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle
Buying a house, having a successful career, and raising children are all part of the classic American dream. While it may sound idyllic, it’s not always an option in today’s world. We currently have a growing population of more than 7.4 billion people and counting — on a planet that can only sustain a maximum of 10 to 11 billion souls. How can living a childfree life contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle?
Help by Having One Less Child
According to science, you don’t have to live entirely childfree to have a sustainable lifestyle — just have one fewer child.
It’s been calculated that having one fewer child could help to reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions by more than 58 tons per year. For comparison, getting rid of your car only reduces emissions by about 2.4 tons per year, and upgrading your light bulbs from incandescent to CFL or LED reduces your emissions by less than 1/10 of a ton.
The key here, in addition to reducing carbon emissions, is to help stabilize the population. While the planet could potentially support a population of around 11 billion, it will not be able to do so well. What is the ideal stable population? Expert opinions vary but many do agree that having fewer children is key. Ideally, the number of children per couple should be 2.1 or fewer. The best way to ensure our planet and resources are able to support the human race is to take steps toward stabilizing our population, but how?
Many modern families have already chosen to limit their family size to one or two children, but for every family that only has one or two kids, there is one that has chosen to shun contraceptive and have as many children as they can carry, i.e. the Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting. Implementing childbearing laws legally limiting couples to 2 children has been tried before — in China, specifically, though there are other areas that have implemented similar laws/policies. Unfortunately, in some areas, it has lead to a stagnating birth rate that hasn’t produced enough children to take the place of adults and elderly workers who are reaching the age of retirement.
Having one less child — or choosing to have only two children, is one way to be more sustainable. However, to have a large impact on the world, it will have to be implemented on a global scale.
Other Benefits of a Childfree Life
Having a childfree life isn’t just good for the environment — it can be good for you as well. First, you will have more freedom. I’ve always wanted to travel the world — without children, I can pick up and go anytime my career and finances will allow. I don’t have to worry about finding someone to watch the kids or go through the hassle of bringing them with me to a foreign country. While kids can definitely benefit from this kind of experience, there are tons of things that are simply out of reach if you’re traveling with children in tow. Second, you’ll have more money. The average cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 is roughly $300,000. Break that down per year and it comes out to somewhere around $17,000. Think of all you could do each year with $17,000 extra.
The possibilities are endless. Now, I’m not saying that all these things aren’t possible after you’ve had children, but having extra money certainly makes them easier.
Finally, you also have the option to add children to your life in the future — either biologically or by fostering or adopting. According to the Children’s Bureau, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, there is an average of 500,000 children in the foster care system at any given time. Having fewer children or choosing to live childfree is a totally personal choice but it is one that can have many benefits.
More about Emily:
Emily is a sustainability blogger who is passionate about living an eco-friendly lifestyle. You can check out more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.
How do you think being childfree helps the environment? Comment below!