Population Matters

From DINKs to GINKs

June 1st, 2010

Lisa Hymas, the senior editor at Grist, an environmental blog, may be on to something.   She says that there’s “a lot of green good that comes from bringing fewer beings onto a polluted and crowded planet.”  She classifies herself as “Green Inclination–No Kids” or GINK for short.  And in a world increasingly threatened by climate change, loss of biodiversity, and diminishing resources, she’s not alone.  More and more people are deciding not to have kids or fewer kids than they might otherwise choose.

In explaining her personal decision not to have children, Hymas first clarifies in her blog that’s she not anti-parenting:

I like kidsmany of them, anyway.  Some of my best friends, as they say, are parents.  I bear no ill will to procreators, past, present, and prospective.  I claim no moral or ethical high ground.

If being a parent is something you’ve longed and planned for, or already embarked upon, I respect your choice and I wish you luck.  Go forth and raise happy, healthy kids.  May they bring you joy and fulfillment.

She also makes clear that her decision not to have kids was not a painful one. She recalls that in 1969, Stephanie Mills, a graduating college senior expressing concern about the impact of population growth upon the planet, once famously said at her commencement that, “I am terribly saddened by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do is to have no children at all.”  Hymas, however, writes that “I am thoroughly delighted by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do is to have no children at all.” 

As evidenced by the decline in fertility rates in the past half century, a lot of couples have decided that children are not for them, my wife and I included. More than three decades ago, marketers began identifying couples who decided to pursue careers rather than children as “Dual Income, No Kids” or DINK, for short. In making that decision, many couples did not consider the environmental consequences of bringing more people into an overcrowded world, but many have. Stephanie Mills is not alone.

What is new, however, is that more and more people are speaking out publicly about their very personal decision.  Chris Bolgiano, who lives in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and has authored or edited five books, wrote a Mother’s Day column recently for the Baltimore Sun in which she talks about her decision.  She wrote that:

It takes a Third World village to use all the resources that a single American consumes and, often, wastes every day. So even though the birthrate in America is historically low, curbing it further would be a good place to begin when trying to save the world. I am pleased to do my part.

She goes on to conclude that:

It seems to me that the encouragement of child-free couples is crucial to saving the planet. A child-free life celebrates humanity’s most profound conquest of nature: not the engineering of dams or genes but control of conception. Give every woman that choice, and the world will change.

In the next few months, we will be doing videotaped interviews with people who, out of concern for the planet and humanity’s future, have decided to have fewer children or no children at all.  And because their voices should be heard, we will be posting their remarks on our website.  Stay tuned.

Posted by Robert J. Walker, Executive Vice President

One Response to “From DINKs to GINKs”

  1. LJ Hamilton Says:

    As someone who has chosen not to have children partly for the benefit of the environment, but also because of knowing what kind of environment those children will have to live in, it is always great to hear more people speaking out publicly about their choice. Hopefully one day our choice will not be met with the venom that it often is in today’s society.

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