The environmental toll of having even one child is enormous – 58.6 tonnes of carbon each year. So is going child-free the answer to our climate crisis?

Gwynn Mackellen was 26 when she decided to get sterilised. It took the recycling consultant, who is based in California five years to find an appropriate doctor under the public health plan she was on, but she was determined. In 2012, she succeeded. “I always knew I didn’t want kids, for environmental reasons,” she says.

“I work in the waste industry, and our waste is the downstream of people. It’s not people being bad; it’s just the effects of people.” Just as it’s not only bad people deforesting, she says: “The trees are being cut down on our behalf. Plastic waste is being dumped and minerals are being mined not because of bad people, but because of people. Having fewer of us, there will be less of those effects.”

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