Gregory and Kate Hamilton
“When we discussed having children, we decided that having just one was the best way to guarantee a sustainable future for our child. Our daughter is now 4 years old and we genuinely feel that this has been the best decision. Having only one child means that there is time for us as a couple as well as our children. We are able to give our child more in terms of time than we would be able to if we had more children and the bond between the three of us often draws comment. We are able to afford to buy more sustainable foods and fuels. With luck we won’t have to struggle to pay for school trips and family holidays.
Whilst money still requires work, there is less stress involved and my wife has not yet had to go back to work. When she does, there will still be time for all of us, as we won’t be rushed having to chase around after two children and we won’t have to earn enough to feed an extra mouth sustainably.”
Gregory also made clear that their choice was not necessarily an easy or a simple one.
“Sometimes it is hard thinking that our daughter will never know what it is to have a sibling, but it would be harder to think about her not knowing the forests, the woodland animals and insects. As humans, the single greatest thing we can do to halt the mass extinctions we are causing is to have fewer children. The choice is hard, but doing what is right for the planet rather than ourselves often is hard.”
(This is excerpted from this article at Population Matters)
Lukas and Suhei Eddy
Both of us come from big families. We enjoy time with our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. And we love playing with children. But when we started dating, in our 20s, we both agreed that we wanted a relationship free from the stress, worries, and financial struggles of having children.
Initially, our motivations for not having children were related to the quality of our relationship: we could spend more time together, less time at work, and focus on each other. We spent ample time on wilderness expeditions, learned new skills, both became bilingual, travelled the world, volunteered on numerous projects, went to graduate school, and pursued many hobbies. We have been truly happy with our relationship and experiences.
At one point, we both voiced the frustration of seeing our favorite childhood streams dammed and forests cut down for new housing developments. Neither of us wanted to contribute to this destruction. The connection between population growth and the loss of special places, natural or otherwise, became undeniable. We realized we were preventing further environmental destruction by simply enjoying our childfree relationship, and will keep it that way.
Our vision is a world where every person of every age sees children as a choice – where everyone is allowed, but no one should feel pressured. We hope to inspire and educate people to make their own choices.
See us on our YouTube channel, Travel Masters.
Clark and Emily Willix
Clark and Emily were both born in the U.S., but “opted out” of a traditional American life to retire early and travel full-time. They say being child-free was the best choice for them:
“For us, everything comes down to energy. We live and travel aboard an antique sailboat, powered by the wind and sun. We even make our own drinking water from the ocean. If we abstain from flying, our carbon footprint is lower than almost anyone currently living in the U.S. (It’s also affordable enough that we were both able to retire in our 30s!)
“While we now have the time, energy, health, and financial resources to support a child and give them an adventurous life, when we look at the energy impact of another life on this already crowded planet, the answer is simple. The most compassionate choice for us is to spend our time and resources improving the lives of those people who already exist, and living lightly on the planet we all share.”
Emily and Clark chronicle their efforts to live an intentional life on their YouTube channel, “Emily and Clark’s Adventure.”
My father lectured about overpopulation when I was just a child, and the world, with a human population of 3 billion, already had a billion more people than it could sustain. I am an only child, and I knew I would never have more than one child—understanding that was the most loving gift I could give to future generations. As it turns out, the limits to population growth are not only resources we consume, but even more ominously, the earth’s ability to absorb our waste, especially CO2. Limiting our family size is the by far the most important thing we can do as individuals to fight climate change. It also helps to mitigate species extinctions, and nearly every human problem on the planet.
My wife and I have one daughter, who is now 18. She graduated at the top of her high school class and is now a college freshman studying studio arts and environmental sustainability. We made sure she had plenty of interaction with other people’s children, and teachers often commented on her sense of empathy—the opposite of the stereotype of the spoiled only child.
If we are to pass on a livable planet, we all must contribute. I don’t look upon having a single child as any kind of sacrifice, but rather an option we would likely have chosen, even if overpopulation were not an issue. We have all the wonders of having had and raised a child with a lot less stress and expense compared to a multiple-child family. We put all our effort into raising a child that would be a good global citizen, and that paid off with a well-rounded, well educated person we enjoy being with, and are very proud of.
Brett and Lisa Cherrington
We are a one-child family. At no time have we questioned the wisdom of our decision.
Lisa and I grew up in the 1960s and 70s. My dad became a philosophy professor, so I always lived in college towns. Considering the state of the world and the United States in the late 60s through the mid 70s, this was quite an opportunity. I was well aware of the social and political upheaval going on in the world, and was rather enamored with the hippie culture. The environmental movement, which enjoyed some very significant successes during that time, caught my attention and imagination, and I thought a lot about how to lead my life in the most environmentally conscious way I could.
I heard about the Zero Population Growth movement, and educated myself on the subject to the point where I was able to see the limitations on our society that a limited planet imposes. I could see the obvious logic that a finite planet, by definition, has a limited capacity for growth in any context. Human population is on the top of the list of growth categories that are inherently unsustainable. And, humans drive the current unsustainability of all of the other growth categories.
Lisa and I met the second semester of our senior year in college. Though neither one of us would have predicted it, we were married a couple of years later. We knew by then that we would be waiting years before having a baby, if we were to do so at all. As the years progressed, our mantra on the subject became “One, or none. And, if one, not until 30”. We were not set on the parenting thing one way or another but we knew, certainly not before our 30th birthdays. Waiting to have one’s offspring minimizes the impact by increasing the interval between generations. This effectively reduces the population, without reducing a couple’s choice regarding procreation. No matter the number of offspring, a 20 year generational interval produces five generations per hundred years, whereas a 34 year interval only produces three generations per hundred years. So, the longer you wait, the better.
We spent our 20s overworked and underpaid, but living simply and happily. We did a lot of backpacking, wildlife watching, and having inexpensive fun, mostly outdoors. We lived in cheap city tenements, saving for the house we bought when we were 27. It is a small 1000 square foot log home in a small town in New Hampshire, and we still live there.
As it happened, Lisa became pregnant by birth control failure the year of our 30th birthdays. This reality reignited the questions of whether or not to have a child, and when. We came to the conclusion that even if we weren’t 30, we were close enough to consider it a serendipitous sign. But, as things turned out, the roller coaster continued, and Lisa had a miscarriage, early on. Well, whew, dodged that bullet, huh? Not so much. Since we had soberly contemplated and made the decision to have the child, now that “we” weren’t pregnant, now what? Well, it was still “one or none”. We had decided on the one, so why shouldn’t we try to get pregnant and have our one? Or at least not try to avoid it? We decided to not try to avoid it. Within a few months Lisa was pregnant again, just a bit before our birthdays. So, it was when we were 30 that Ben was born and we became parents.
Our neighbors had lost a baby to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) which put some apprehension into the emotional mix, and delayed it a bit, but my focus on my “one or none” personal policy had me scheduling my vasectomy as soon as I was comfortable that Ben was going to survive. That accomplished, and an unexpected medical need for Lisa to have a hysterectomy, and our one-child family was set in stone. Plan fulfilled, goals met; one or none, wait ’til 30.
We enjoyed our lives together. Ben was a wonderful child. He was very good at participating in whatever we were doing, or keeping himself occupied on his own. Lisa and I included Ben in our regular activities as much as possible. He can honestly tell people that he has been backpacking since he was two months old. Now, Ben has had his own camping gear for over 20 years; tent, backpack, sleeping bag, etc. And, he loves camping as much or more than we ever did. As we expanded our own activities, Ben was always included; mountain biking, kayaking, snowshoeing, snowboarding…we had a lot of fun.
Starting when Ben was young, we bonded with other local families to provide a sense of community and extended “family”. This included families with more than one child, and other one-child families. This created a core group of friends that Ben will always be in touch with, just like family. That being said, as an only child, Ben has developed a great sense of self and an ability to make friends all on his own. This was beneficial both as a kid, and when he chose to attend Fort Lewis College a couple thousand miles away in Durango Colorado, where he went knowing no one.
Since Ben moved out of our home over 10 years ago, we have remained in close contact. We enjoyed visiting Colorado each year he lived in Durango including two years post-grad. Every year of college Ben came home to visit, and to spend the summer if he could. Then and now, around the end-of-year holidays, Ben comes home to visit whenever he can. Ben has moved to Montana and made a life with a wonderful woman there. We visit regularly with them using all of the usual phone and digital means, and get together in New Hampshire or Montana when we can. Lisa and I visited Montana a couple of years ago, and among other things, we had a great time camping together in Glacier National Park. We always look forward to our next family adventure.
Being a one child family, we have had the opportunity to share our lives and our undivided attention on our one child, Ben. This enabled us to minimize our footprint on the earth in many ways as well. From the beginning, we were able to bring Ben up in our small cozy house, with no new additions or moves necessary to accommodate more bedrooms for additional kids. We have been able to have small energy efficient vehicles to comfortably transport our small family, even loaded up for camping and vacations. We have had only one child’s activities to support. One child to visit as we grow older. And of course, we are aware that having additional children would be contributing in the worst way to human overpopulation, the Climate Crisis, environmental pollution, resource depletion, waste generation, species extinction, social inequity and disruption.
We are a happy one-child family and encourage all who are considering their family planning to opt for “one or none”. The future of our planet depends on it.