Facing Divorce? See what steps you can take to protect what's yours.
Divorce Home » Divorce News » Articles » Studies

Eco-Awareness Meets Divorce


Divorce is obviously tough on those people most closely involved, including the divorcing spouses, their children and even other immediate family members and friends. But did you know that divorce is also tough on the planet? That's what a recent study by researchers at Michigan State University's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife asserts. In a report that garnished much attention, researchers Jianguo Liu and Eunice Yu really didn't reveal anything that is too surprising once considered objectively.

Basically, the "divorce is bad for the planet" report notes that as families transition from one home to two households following divorce, more resources are sapped from the natural environment. In other words, divorces require the building of more homes, the use of more land, and the need for more building materials.

Of special importance, households do not consume resources as efficiently following divorce. With fewer people living in a home following divorce and other family members transplanted somewhere else, more electricity and water is used, more goods consumed, and more greenhouse gases emitted on a per capita basis.

Here's some data backing up these findings:

  • Liu and Yu concluded that six million more homes existed in the United States circa 2000 because of divorce.
  • Assuming that the "resource-use efficiency" of divorced households was comparable to that of married households, Liu and Yu found that divorced households could have saved 38 million rooms, 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water in 2005 alone.

So what should we take from this study?

While many media outlets picked up on the study's assertion that divorce is bad for the planet, we'd be better off focusing on the need for divorced families to understand the importance of conserving resources following this dramatic change in their lives.

While it is hard to imagine a soon-to-be divorced person thinking about how his divorce is going to affect the planet when he may already be worrying about issues like child custody, alimony and child support among others, this message still has much relevance.

As for the assertion that divorce is bad for the planet, we should ask how couples staying in unhappy marriages benefit the environment! Sure, the study is right when detailing that more natural resources are consumed following a divorce; however, this use of resources applies to many other things in life, both positive and negative.

While divorce may not always be ideal, it can be necessary in some instances. And while divorces drain more resources, they can also bring on much-needed, positive changes in the lives of those directly involved. It's unfortunate how this "divorce is bad for the planet" assertion seemed to be what most media took from this report when the message that families need to do a better job of conserving resources following divorce could have been a great starting point to explain how they could actually do so.

» Back to Divorce Articles