Today, I’d just like to make clear that I’m not saying we should eschew all but absolutely essential consumption. (I hope you like the word eschew as much as I do. Every time I use it, I think I should follow it up immediately with a “gesundheit” or a “bless you” or something.) I’m just saying, before we make a purchase, we should keep in mind that there are environmental costs associated with producing, using, and disposing of the stuff we buy. To be brief, resources must be extracted, transported, transformed into goods, shipped to stores or warehouses, transported to where they’ll be used, and ultimately sent to a waste site somewhere. At various steps along the way, habitats are disrupted, resources are depleted, and pollution is created.
If you need something, go ahead and buy it, but please think first whether it’s worth—in addition to the price in dollars and cents—the costs it imposes on the environment.