Friday, February 23, 2007

my population impact

This is a long overdue post. Until now I have rarely spoken about my decision to have children or the fact that I have 5 children. I have received email questions about my decision, comments on posts, and even some angry emails!

As you could guess from what I mentioned before, I was previously married and had children. I am remarried and have had two children with my spouse. My "greening" started less than a year ago. I joined the compact in April 2006 and was later "awakened" to the impact that we have on the earth's resources. I was, however, already pregnant with my 5th child. My decision to have children came after my learning about human impact on the earth.

A friend has one child. This child is the little prince. He gets anything and everything that he wants. This little emperor syndrome may have a greater negative impact on our earth than families with more children. I agree that in many cases having fewer children is better. One child who strives to own everything can be a greater detriment than a few who know how to share and reuse. Of course, this behavior is not the fault of the child, but of those who give children everything they want and desire. The Western lifestyle is extremely damaging in itself.

Due to the fact that I have added to the population of the earth, I have made the conscious decision to modify our lifestyle to lessen our family impact. I attempt to teach and show my children a responsible way to live, to use less, leave less behind, and share more. I also try to share what I have learned with others. Sometimes people may not agree with what I try to do or how I do it, but I hope to be positive for those of us who are trying to change. I think it would be more hypocritical of me to not attempt to lessen our family impact. If I drove an SUV, I could exchange it for a vehicle that uses less gas. However, I can't exchange my 5 children for 1 or exchange a child for another who uses less water, but I can work to lessen the material goods that they consume.

Personally, I have become more passionate about human impact on the planet because of my children. I view how each of my personal decisions will impact my children (and their children). I don't know if I would have done so previously.

31 comments:

Jenny said...

Beautiful post. I love big families, though we don't plan to have more than two children (of course, things can always change). You're doing a beautiful thing by teaching your children about sustainable living, and care for the environment.

Erin said...

Children are the greatest inspiration. Since having a child of my own, I am more aware of our impact on the environment and have been making choices to minimize our impact as best we can. I admire the journey you have chosen to take with your family!

Cindy said...

Oh Honey! I have 39 children, you don't owe anyone an explanation. Your blog is insightful and I've enjoyed it a great deal; going through all your links, nodding my head in agreement so often.

Kristy said...

I don't think that the problem is really if you have "too many children" it is as you say how you raise up that child. I love reading your blog and I am inspired by your lifestyle choices.

Keep up the good work!

Nada said...

The question of over-population is always tricky, particularly when we in the industrial western world use more than we are entitled to and we are the ones to raise it as an issue, with particular reference to poorer countries. I am uncomfortable with contradictions it raises, however, I do think discussions should be had.

Your blog - the honest reflections of your process are worth reading and thinking about. Like others, I find myself nodding along in agreement and am heartened to have found similarly minded people (although a world away). Now I don't feel quite so odd and am in fact, inspired to go further.

BurdockBoy said...

Thank you for your honest post.

I also believe many of the problems we face are from over consumption and not just over population. I believe large families are fine. Like you mentioned, often times large families learn sharing, simplicity, passing on materials, etc simply out of habit. Still, we have seen a trend of smaller families which I believe is good. Hopefully, the smaller families will live by the same ideals you, and many of us in the blogging community have adhered to.

Oh by the way, I think we are going to just sstay with one, but I promise no little emperor syndrome :)

turnip said...

I see nothing wrong or "ungreen" with having multiple children. I get really tired of people accusing others of being enviornmentally ignorant or selfish just because they have several children.
I think having several children is wonderful as it gives us the oppurtunity to teach them and pass along important values like simple living and enviornemntal stewardship to future generations. If we raise our children to have a positive impact on the earth than it is definitely a gift to the world in my opinion.

Janis Mara said...

I'm glad you made a post about this, Emme. While it is important that people work to reduce their carbon footprint, and I believe it's important to encourage others to do so, in my opinion there are certain lines that should not be crossed. Criticizing you for having five children is *way out of line.* For one thing, what are you supposed to do now? Send them back? The number of children you have is your decision and it is nobody else's place to even comment on it. Raising five children with love is one of the most awesome things a person can do. I love your blog - keep rockin'!

Bart said...

This is an interesting subject. Overpopulation is one of those touchy subjects that seem to be the proverbial 'third rail' in the environmental movement. Having offspring is one of those primal urges and desires that many people have, and making them feel bad about doing so is both mean-spirited and unhelpful.

As others have stated, overconsumption is just as large a problem than overpopulation. A childless environmental advocate that drives a hybrid all over the place, flies all over the place going to environmental conferences, and eats imported organic food will probably burn more carbon in a year than a family of 6 that eats and lives locally.

RAS said...

I agree with the comments above. Also *I* want a big family. Though I don't intend to have them all biologically -I want to have one or two (assuming that I can, which is a big assumption given my family's history of infertility) and adopt several more.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
littlejennywren said...

I think it is wonderful that you have a larger family. I have three children and would gladly have had more but it was not to be. If you raise your children to be good stewards of the earth and to love and respect all the wonders of the earth including its people you have given us another five people who will live lightly on the earth and no doubt influence many other lives. I admire your honesty and willingness to share. We are all on a journey, that is what life is supposed to be. If we were born all knowing we would never experience the joy of learning and discovery.

Liz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Emme said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz said...

Hey Emme.... thanks, I definitely think we're on the same side here. It can be frustrating at times when you see how slowly people have embraced slowing down, or needing less, but I feel hopeful that we're (finally!) starting to see a tide change.

I'm glad we were able to have this conversation. :)

Village Green said...

Wonderful blog. I just came across it today. Regarding children, I'm in the opposite boat. A dead-ender by choice. Probably due to growing up in the baby boom generation -- always too many people crowding around. No matter what we choose, people are ready to criticize. All my adult life, when meeting people -- they'll ask -- and how many children do you have? And I'll say none, thank you. And they act like I'm a freak of nature. No, just a woman who is very happy to have grown up in an era when I can make my choice freely. With 7 plus billion on the planet, I figure people should be thankful I made this choice, but it is seldom the case.

Fleur said...

I have one child. It is not something I planned, it is just how my life happened. Life has a tendency to do so, as I am sure you know.
I want to share with you an incident of years ago; when I went to pick up my daugther from school I saw the mother of one of her friends, and it was obvious she was pregnant. So I went over to say hello, and I congratulated her on the happy news. She looked at me suspiciously...... hmmm, she said, you are one of the few who congratulate me she said. Curious I asked her why I wouldn't, and she answered, well it is our 3rd baby and she had many reactions like 'oh you are hoping for a boy this time aren't you' or 'how courageous to dare have a third one'. One lady even came up to her and told her it was irresponsible in this day and age to have so many children........ she told me who it was and than I could not help laughing. It was the same lady who attacked me a week before for 'only' having 1 child! Guess in her eyes we are only perfect if we have 1.7 kids??
Anyway, nobody should interfere with how many kids you have. As long as you take care of them it is your business.

Anonymous said...

HAVE LOTS OF CHILDREN, WE ARE IN THE SOUTH AND MEXICANS HERE HAVE 10+ KIDS PER FAMILY, PRETTY SOON THEY ARE GOING TO TAKE OVER!

Alyice said...

Never feel guilty for having kids, even if those with "green living" mentalities tell you otherwise. It's not how many children we have that impact the environment as much as it is how we live our lives that impacts it. one person who lives his/her life poorly can have a far, far greater negative impact on the earth than someone with ten kids who live more consciously. Never feel guilty for having kids, they are the greatest gift we can ever give the earth--especially if we raise them well.

I, too, am just getting into leaving less of a footprint on the earth. I had done it when the kids were born, lost my interest when my baby died, and have finally come back to really living life again, which of course means conscious living.

Just recycling my trash shows me what one person can do to either positively or negatively effect the environment.

Anonymous said...

I think large families are terrific but I don't think it's fair to assume/label single child families synonymous with "little emperor syndrome". My choice is one (or maybe another who knows) and yours is for more. Kudos to both of us for bringing life into the world that respects the world :)

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