Seems like you can't win for the losing.
The ever readable George Monbiot rails against "Green Consumerism," and picks on the book by Sheherazade Goldsmith (see here for my comments on some of her peculiar advice.) The other issue that Monbiot addresses is that merely consuming less energy-intensive products is not enough. You have to actually change your consumption habits to make a difference. [image from celsias.com]
For example, if you buy a Prius (for better gas economy,) but then increase your driving, you have done nothing to improve matters. This is well explained in this post with the funny name : Boeing's Dreamliner and the Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate , also from Celsias, which shows, for example, that because Boeing has produced a more efficient airliner, it will lead to more airline flights and, therefore, increased energy usage.
Dozens of new books appear to provide an answer: we can save the world by embracing “better, greener lifestyles”. [The] Guardian...put [Goldsmith's] photo on the masthead last week, with the promise that she could teach us to go green. The media’s obsession with beauty, wealth and fame blights every issue it touches, but none more so than green politics.
There is an inherent conflict between the aspirational lifestyle journalism which makes readers feel better about themselves and sells country kitchens and the central demand of environmentalism: that we should consume less. “None of these changes represents a sacrifice”, Sheherazade tells us. “Being more conscientious isn’t about giving up things.” But it is: if, like her, you own more than one home when others have none.
Green consumerism is becoming a pox on the planet. If it merely swapped the damaging goods we buy for less damaging ones, I would champion it. But two parallel markets are developing: one for unethical products and one for ethical products, and the expansion of the second does little to hinder the growth of the first.
Ethical shopping is in danger of becoming another signifier of social status. I have met people who have bought solar panels and mini-wind turbines before they have insulated their lofts: partly because they love gadgets, but partly, I suspect, because everyone can then see how conscientious (and how rich) they are.