TIME: Have a Baby, Wreck the Environment

TIME's May 8 article on “eco-parenting” carries an incendiary lead paragraph that reinforces the kids-are-bad-for-the-environment theme running through much of the save-the-planet hyperbole being reported by the media.

“Want to wreck the environment?  Have a baby.  Each bundle of joy gobbles up more of the planet's food, clogs garbage dumps with diapers, churns through plastic toys and winds up a gas-guzzling, resource-consuming grown-up like the rest of us.  Still, babies are awfully cute.  Given that most people will intend to procreate, what's an environmentally conscious parent to do?”

To her credit, contributor Pamela Paul's story, "Growing Up Green," didn't go down the population control path in discussing the impact of childbearing on the environment.  That train of thought was in the news last fall when Alan Weisman's book The World Without Us was released and continues to get media attention today. 

No, Paul's article is a call to (green) arms for parents who “are not just buying greener but fundamentally altering the often wasteful art of child-rearing.”  The story lists all kinds of things “green-minded families” are doing to save the planet.

    Buying organic baby goodies like
        mohair-filled crib mattresses flame retardant-free pjs fair-trade toys
    Early potty training Monitoring water temperature in children's baths Evaluate eco-fitness of home and school Have an organic pregnancy Reduce the carbon footprint of each child

 Paul quotes parents from the “eco haven” that is Berkeley, California.   They informed her that “environmental awareness and activism” is “a moral and ethical issue” they hope to teach their three daughters, one of whom apparently has already told her mother she is wasteful.

After citing a poll that shows “the act of having kids triggers many to go green,” Paul also flacks a couple of books on green child rearing, including a new one by radio host Don Imus's wife, Dierdre, entitled Growing Up Green!  Paul herself is the author of Parenting, Inc.

Seems Junior's carbon footprint has spawned a whole new genre in the publishing world.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.