Emma Olliff is a 30-year-old UK kitchen gardener and chef who has decided never to have biological children. Her reason, like a growing number of women (and men) throughout the world is based around the “environmental crisis our planet is facing.”
“None of the challenges we need to overcome are made easier with a larger human population,” Emma told Mamamia.
“It is my opinion that encouraging people to have smaller families and embracing those who decide to be child free without prejudice is an important part of solving some of the global issues that ours and future generations will be facing.”
The extent in which population has grown over the past century is quite significant.
According to Population Matters, “until the time of Napoleon, there were less than one billion people on Earth at any one time. Since the Second World War, we have been adding a billion people to the global population every 12-15 years. Our population is more than double today what it was in 1970.”
With this growth in population also comes substantial impacts on the environment we live in. Emma believes the larger family size, the more significant the impact. The smaller the family size, the more we can help our environment.
“The importance is demonstrated very clearly in figures presented in the piece of work conducted by scientists at Lund University in Sweden," Emma said.
"Their study identified the four actions that would have the greatest impact on an individual’s greenhouse gas emissions: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living car free, and having fewer children.
"Their findings show that choosing to have one less child will reduce your carbon footprint by 58.6 tonnes of carbon per year – 12 times more than the other three decisions combined."
For Emma, the decision to be child-free hasn’t been particularly difficult.
“I made this decision fairly early in my twenties, though without the firmness I hold today.”
But she does concede that the stigma attached to her decision can be challenging at times.
“I am often told that I will change my mind, that I am too young to know, that when a child comes along I will suddenly have a change of heart.
"My answer in many of these situations is: if you are old enough to make the decision to have a child, you are old enough to make the decision not to."