Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's big and loud and green?

That would be our family!

I was going to save this post, but as we were moving through our day, I decided to write it since I had a moment and all my thoughts were clear....that rarely happens! As I was taking some cookies out of the oven and debating what time to put the rolls in that I made earlier for dinner, my kids were busy taking the never ending pile of recycling out...that got me thinking.

A big criticism of large families is that we are helping to over populate the earth, use up resources, increase waste and in general, we are not environmentally friendly. Being that the mass majority of my research revolves around green products, eco-friendly consumer buying habits, green manufacturing, green families, etc. I would say that I am pretty well versed on these thing. Many families are choosing to have less kids, or no children at all, at higher rates than ever. The incidence of larger families is still low, historically speaking, therefore overall population is not being that strongly affected by those of us who have a slightly larger family.

Are we more stressful on the earth? Sure, I guess some large families are, just like lots of small families and even couples are. What is unique to the larger family is resourcefulness. Most are not independently wealthy, so they find ways to be frugal. They cook more at home and from scratch since it is less expensive, but in turn this reduces waste from packaging, emissions from traveling out, restaurant waste. Large families often use hand me downs within the household on many items including clothing, bedding, toys and baby gear. By using an item multiple times for multiple children, these items are kept out of landfills longer. Many larger families have gardens to help support their family's needs. This again reduces waste, and if the family cans their own food and grows organic, they are feeding more people with a minimal negative impact on the earth.

In my home, I would anticipate that our carbon footprint is much smaller than that of most of our neighbors with much smaller families. We recycle and compost. We reuse whenever possible. We manage our heating and cooling and try to keep electricity use as low as possible. We cloth diaper and hang them to dry whenever we can. We heat with wood in the winter. I cook from scratch using as many local ingredients as possible and can surplus whenever we have it. We use green cleaning products, belong to a CSA and I order free trade organic coffee beans that I roast here at home. Aside from my SUV, I would say that we are very eco-conscious and green.

So, if you are opposed to large families, I would think about whether it is really due to the environmental impact... we are lean, mean, and green and I am raising even more people who will take care of the environment!

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