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03rd May 2022

Musings: Some people think we should stop having children to save the planet

Melissa Carton

Is it a sacrifice that you would make?

We all want to do our part for the planet but some couples have decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and give up their chance to be parents.

As I am a parent it is obviously not a sacrifice that I made, but it did lead me down a rabbit hole of articles written by people who chose to remain childfree and even having themselves sterilised to save the planet.

Gwynn Mackellen was only in her twenties when she had herself sterilised. Talking to The Guardian she said

“I always knew I didn’t want kids, for environmental reasons.”

For many parents this seems unthinkable, no matter how much you love the planet but for many others, they see it as a step worth taking to preserve the earth.

She went on to say;

“I think our culture is very pro-natalist and it’s to our detriment. I would like to see us voluntarily reduce our population.”

“My mum grew up thinking that getting married and having kids was what you did, but she raised my sister and me to not feel like those were our only options.”

I recently had someone comment on something I posted on social media about zero waste telling me that ‘no matter how much you recycle or buy reusable nappies, nothing will undo the damage you’ve done by having children.”

It was extremely harsh and upsetting. My children aren’t things, they’re people. If some couples choose not to have children then that’s their business but to attack someone for wanting to have a family is extremely wrong.

Leilani Münter, a 44-year-old race car driver who is childfree by choice for the environment has said she wants to encourage more people to get on board but she in no way wants to guilt trip existing parents.

She, in fact, thinks more people should become parents but through adopting one of the many orphaned children, particularly in third world countries.

“my ask is that you consider adopting one of the 153m orphan children that are already on the planet and need a home. ”

For many though it’s an extremely emotional and sensitive issue and not one that can be easily dealt with.

It’s one of our most natural instincts to become parents and for those who have always dreamt of having children, they will need a lot more convincing before they give up having a family.