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 sounds 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 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 10 billion, it will not be able to do so well. The ideal stable population would be around 8 billion. To stabilize the population, the ideal number of children per couple is approximately 2.1. The best way to ensure our planet and resources are able to support the human race is to take steps to stabilize our population at around 8 billion.
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 think the record currently is 19, but don’t quote me on that. 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 simply choosing to have only two children, is one way to be more sustainable, but 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 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, part 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 child free is a totally personal choice — it’s none of my business whether you choose to have children, adopt children or enjoy your life child free.