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Gink Manifesto: Green Inclined, No Kids

Gink Manifesto: Green Inclined, No Kids
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There’s a persistent conviction in our culture that if your biosuit includes a uterus, you should use it. Procreate or be somehow less womanly, less human, and more selfish, hedonistic or conflicted than your mothering counterparts. It’s a message that resonates pervasively, and sometimes pits parents against the childless.

  A Womb of Her Own

On paper, the idea is sustainably sexy and smart. In lieu of the impact of unfettered population growth on our home, it’s a no-brainer that informed and committed planetary citizens who consciously opt to NOT have children would garner undisputed support from eco-sexuals, right?

This isn’t always the case. Those who choose to remain childless for planet’s sake face thorny prejudices. Lisa Hymas, senior editor at [www.Grist.org| Grist.org], is credited with coining the term GINK — Green Inclined, No Kids — and has documented her childless choices in wide-ranging essays on the topic. She sparked a fury with The GINK Manifesto: Say it Loud, I’m Childfree and Proud, even though she focused on the positive, eco-friendly benefits of being a GINK. Some of the criticism came from unlikely corners: environmental activists.

One of the most repeated arguments is that environmentalists should have babies because they will raise them to be conscious consumers and stewards of the planet; as if we can predict what our children will be like. Hymas easily debunks this myth.

“My mother and father, despite their best efforts and commendable parenting skills, completely failed in their endeavor to raise their four children into Christian conservatives,” she said. “Instead, they ended up with four apatheistic liberals.”

(I’m sure my conservative parents never expected their daughter to be a sex writer either. Just saying.)

This line of reasoning isn’t new: just because we reuse, recycle and reduce doesn’t guarantee that our offspring will follow in our carbon-free footprints. Forty years ago, Stephanie Mills, an early advocate for the childfree life responded to this well-intentioned argument by pointing out that there are, “already plenty of promising babies in the world, a multitude of who could be well served by some economic and racial justice.”

Hymas commends parents who are doing the hard work of raising the next generation of ecologically savvy kids, yet she rightly insists that there are numerous other ways to improve the world.

“Since I started writing about the childfree, I've heard from many of them who are teachers, or work with children in after-school programs or as mentors, and they feel they have more to give to those jobs or activities because they don't have kids of their own at home.”

“If environmentalists want to have kids, that's great — I respect that decision. But environmentalists shouldn't have kids just so they can spread their values. There are more than enough kids on the planet already; what we don't have enough of is good education and good opportunities for all of those kids.”

  For Creation’s Sake!

According to the female eco-experts I spoke with, the decisions to use their lady bits strictly for pleasure is often met with pity, outrage or social stigmatizing, even though those criticizing them agree that fewer children helps the overall survivability of our species on a crowded planet.

Population Matters, an international advocacy group for sustainable populations, estimates that there will be nine billion of us breathing, eating, pooping humans by 2050 — which means a lot more clean air, food and toilet facilities will be needed.

What’s more, “with so many of the world’s current population aged under 23 — a Youthquake — population growth has an inbuilt momentum which will be hard to stop.”

Many communities, agencies and governments assume that Earth can support another 2.4 billion people, whereas according to this agency, “the uncomfortable truth is that the impact on Earth’s biosphere of more than nine billion people could be fatal for the planet in terms of greenhouse gas emissions alone.”

Shiver me recycled timbers ‘cause those are big figures to wrap our eco-hands around. The more I think about it, being GINKy seems awfully magnanimous from the perspective of breeders and non-breeders alike.

  Reproduction Optional

Stefanie Iris Weiss, author of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable (2010), is another self-declared GINK who makes a compelling case for adoption as an option. Like Hymas, she supports parents doing the hard work of child rearing, and takes it one step further.

“Imagine, for a moment, if the option of not having kids were talked about in home economics or health classes in high school, just like everything else,” Weiss says.

“If all our children were truly conscious decisions, perhaps we’d have a much happier, psychologically healthier world. And that’s not even counting what reducing the population would do for Planet Earth — making all our lives, the ones we’re living right now, safer from the ravages of climate change.”

Why is this choice so audacious, even to some greenies? If someone isn’t inclined or prepared to be a parent, let’s support their choice. As Hymas has written, “parenthood is an enormous commitment and responsibility, best not undertaken lightly by people who aren’t wholly invested in being the best parents they can be. You don’t get a test drive or a trial run -- it’s all or nothing.”

  Green-itude

Come to think of it, that reasoning applies to our planet, of which we have only one. Mother Earth doesn’t need us to survive, but we need her. If we somehow fail this trial run and make a mess of things, the planet will cough us all up, including the greenest among us. From this perspective, choosing to become a GINK is eco-savvy and self-less, and I for one am grateful that some are willing to forgo bringing more babies into this world so that my children’s generation and the ones not yet born can have a brighter, greener future.

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Comments

love this article! thanks so much for it

06/10/2011

Happy you liked it!

06/11/2011

Wonderful article!

There were actually quite a few things taken into consideration when my husband and I decided not to have children. One was me just not having a motherly instinct towards children. Towards animals, plants, and my husband, I do care deeply. Children? Not an ounce of it. Don't ask me why. I don't know. Second, I wondered if I would want to grow up in this time and how safe I would be. I quickly shuddered at that. Also, childbirth actually scares me, and the fact that there are so many children out there without homes almost makes it seem selfish to want to have a child instead of giving one that has already been brought into this world a home.

It actually would be interesting to teach the option of not having kids in home economics or health classes. Girls, from a very early age, are brainwashed to think that they need to have children. Not every woman is cut out for that or meant to do that. And they need to be taught to consider every side of the equation before having a child. Will there be enough money to support it? Will it be in a safe and caring environment? Do you have the patience? Have you considered adoption? And most importantly, why do you want this child?

Society does tend to look down on women who choose not to have children, but I think it's just human nature. Each species, no matter what, concentrates on passing genes to the next generation and ensuring the continuation of the species. It's natural instinct to procreate. When a female disrupts that cycle, she's going to be an outcast.

06/12/2011

@True Reviews - very thoughtful response and I thank you for sharing it. Just one question - why does she have to be an outcast? Why can't we create space for this archetype too?

06/13/2011

I agree there are multiple perspectives to look at this from. I have one child but no one should have children if they don't want to and they absolutely should not be pressured into having children. Choosing to not reproduce is definitely green. There are so many other ways to leave a mark on society through advocacy and education. The fact that children won't necessarily grow up to be like their parents is a good point as well.

06/21/2011
Ansley  

Thank you for this wonderful article! Very informative.

07/25/2011
Jennifer28994  

I disagree with the moron who said women who choose not to have children are treated like outcasts. That is simply false. I chose not to have children and I have women come up to me all the time to tell me they wish they did what I did. Hardly an outcast, I have been treated like a hero. A woman who doesn't allow peer pressure and parents to dictate my life. That takes guts and is admired. The ones I pity are the Moms who have no life outside of their children. It is just beyond sad. I enjoy freedoms women with children can never have and that is sad.

10/06/2011
Jennifer28994  

I also want to say that I have friends that are great Moms and are genuinely happy with their decision to have children, but if you don't want to have children, don't let society pressure you.

10/06/2011
freda  

nice review

03/06/2012

I believe it is a personal choice whether or not to have children; there are benefits and drawbacks to both lifestyle choices. We should also remember, those who choose to mother are not a monolithic group. Mothering can involve formal or informal adoption or fostering, teachers and youth leaders, birthing children, etc. Women become mothers for varying reasons, but I fundamentally disagree that choosing to procreate is at its core a non-green activity. If we see the act of raising environmentally aware children to live in harmony with the Earth in a negative light then those who do not have children should also be forced to view themselves through the haze of guilt for their very existence--and I don't see that happening anytime soon. You can't have it both ways.

01/05/2013

Jennifer28994 said "I disagree with the moron who said women who choose not to have children are treated like outcasts. That is simply false." No, that isn't always false if it is based on experience, no need to call someone a moron even if they were implying our society as a whole. I have been treated like an outcast by certain groups and people. Thank goodness it isn't felt too frequently and I don't have a victimization mindset because of a few very inappropriate comments.

12/10/2013

My childfree lifestyle is partially influenced by my environmentalism as well as many other reasons. It makes me feel that for me, it's the right thing to do. I would like to see more people in our modern, post-agricultural, less diseased, more crowded time make similar choices. It seems to be catching on. Unfortunately, those who consider "childfree" to be odd might consider an ecological motivation to be sanctimonious liberal nonsense (haha, I'm not exactly liberal...). It's too bad that every friggin' thing is so very politicized, polarizes us.

12/10/2013
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