I've never heard anyone else talk about this phenomenon and it may be that I'm perfectly placed to see something that other journalists/newswriters/bloggers aren't: but if you want to learn about living sustainably in terms of larger families consuming fewer resources you should look no further than the Christian homeschooling movement.
That's right - the Christian homeschooling movement.
Liberal "greenies" like to pretend that they have it dialed out when it comes to living lightly on the earth, but often that's a sham. Sure they shell out big bucks for products that are organic or herbal or not tested on animals, but the truth is that they still consume way more than their fair share of the world's resources. The environment will not be saved by a Silicon Valley suburbanite living in a 5,000 sf house who chooses Aubrey organics shampoo over Pert.
When it comes to living "lightly" on the earth, a family of eight who survives on one parent's salary of $50,000 is going to have it beat six ways from Sunday over a dual income professional couple with a combined salary of $150,000. There's no way around that.
Christian homeschoolers rarely think of themselves as "green"; they think of themselves as "thrifty". They bake their own bread, grow gardens, don't use the car much (because they only have one and the dad takes it to work). They shop at thrift stores, hand down clothes over and over again, give homemade gifts at Christmas time...you get the picture.
These people often can't afford organics and high-end cotton clothing. They may shop at WalMart and warehouse stores. But they buy in bulk and they don't have the money for frivolous gew-gaws. I contend that their footprint is therefore smaller.
"But...but...think of the population boom!" you'll say, and you're right; population is a concern. But I'm more concerned about the population of people who think a large house, two incomes, three tvs, five computers, and several cars are all necessary to achieving the "good life". I'm concerned about the populations of countries like China, India, and so on, who have taken our values on as their own and want those trappings, too. A family of eight in Iowa who lives in a 1600 sf house? Not worried about them at all.
Sustainable livng has to start with common sense. These women have plenty of it. I may not agree with their religious views or politics, but I can't argue with their frugality. The other day when I decided to look into switching from paper napkins to cloth ones, I didn't consult a fancy "green living" website; I posted on my old homeschoolers' forum. It didn't take long before I was overwhelmed with practical, knowledgeable answers from women who'd either made the switch years ago, or never used paper ones to begin with.
Look around - spot the families in the small houses, the ones with the bountiful gardens and cloth diapers on the clotheslines. Those are the people we need to listen to now.