Big Families More Environmentally Friendly?


I find a lot of people who opt to not have kids, do it for the environment, or because they are going “green”. I also know a lot of people who get accused of “over-population” when they have more than two. But, are we off base here, thinking that large families are the reasons for the doom and gloom?  There are several reasons why I’m now leaning towards the opposite view, that large families are actually better for our environment.

First of all, if you have a large family, most likely you are not using contraceptives.  Just think about all those condoms not wasting away in a landfill, not to mention the energy and resources used to make them in the first place! Or the fact that the birth control pill is probably not being taken, thus preventing a lot of excess estrogen in our waters (yay fish!).  There is certainly something that can be said about natural birth control methods, which many large families use.

Secondly, most large families live cheaply, because they have to, and living cheaply is green. Here’s some examples, large families are more likely to use cloth diapers because they cannot afford to do disposable.  Can you imagine how much waste plastic disposable diapers cause?  In addition most families will use the same baby stuff, for each kid, and pass down clothes and toys as they grow, so more kids does not equate to a larger carbon footprint. Also, large families are less likely to travel or not travel as often, just think how your carbon footprint skyrockets when you fly!  I would even think, that large families would be more likely to buy locally grown food, rather than exotic produce shipped from thousands of miles away, simply because it costs less. I’m sure that this list could go on but those are the ones that came to mind.

Thirdly, when one has a small family they have more money, more money often means more stuff.  If you only have one or two kids you can afford to buy them the latest smart phone every year, the latest video games, new clothes and just stuff in general.  I know that with my students, I can tell who comes from a large and small family just by the stuff they own.  You won’t see a student, with more than four siblings, owning a cell phone, or ipad, that’s for sure. Also, you as a parent can afford more for yourself, the sport car, the giant house – because everyone needs 1500 sqft to themselves nowadays– and don’t forget the boat and the designer clothing.

Now, I’m not trying to make people who have money feel bad, as I do enjoy spending time on a boat up at the lake myself. I just merely want to point out, that big families seem to be taking the heat for many of the world’s problems, and I don’t think that it’s true or fair to label them as the main perpetrator.

Naturally, I think it is easier for big families to live green lives, where small ones have to be more conscious of their actions. The big families have no choice, whereas the small families often have to choose to live the green lifestyle because it is so easy to get sucked in to our consumer culture. Keeping in mind that there are exceptions to every rule, and I know that there are big families guilty of living materialistic lives, just like their are small families living simply.

Climate change, food and water shortages are common in this day and age, but rather than focusing the blame on over-population –which has been debunked over and over again– we need to really look in the mirror to see that it is our over-consumtion of resources, and government corruption, that is largely to blame for the state of the world today. Twenty percent of the world uses eighty percent of the world’s resources, what would the world be like if that statistic was flipped?

Pope Benedict XVI said, “Environmental protection and the connection between fighting poverty and fighting climate change are important areas for the promotion of integral human development.”

Now, imagine how the world could change, if we lived more like big families…

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3 Responses to Big Families More Environmentally Friendly?

  1. ….and don’t forget that we have less leftovers, not because we have less food (on the contrary, my Costco shopping cart is pretty impressive!) but because with many kids in the house, someone is bound to eat whatever is left in the fridge. Large families I know use disposable diapers, like we did, but I think you’re right about everything else.

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    • That’s another great point about the leftovers! I know with the disposable diapers that small and big use them, but it seems that the only families, I have known, to use them have been big ones.

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  2. Pingback: Thank you! « CATHOLIC CRAVINGS

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