Often an ecologically responsible lifestyle is put forward as a necessary asceticism to avoid the worst of the outcomes for our former (and ongoing) profligacy: "If you fly, we all die." This method relies on guilt and fear to motivate change, which may have some initial success, but are generally quite terrible at securing long term transformation.
But it need not be so. While a certain measure of fear can be a healthy part of facing the truth of our situation, true conversion is not simply away from, but towards: away from the false idols of wealth, security, consumption, endless growth and towards the living and true way that is Christ. We don't just shun death; we embrace life. And while some degree of fasting from luxuries is a healthy spiritual discipline to focus the mind on the pleasures of God, Christian discipleship is also about feasting, celebration and joy. Lent gives way to Easter.
Another way of putting this, is that consumerism is a false idol, promising far more than it can deliver, and ultimately diminishing our capacity for real enjoyment of what it offered in the first place. Renouncing this idol is not primarily about ecological mitigation, but first it is a simple matter of spiritual health, of being truly alive, deeply human. By the way, this is one of the reasons why I am suspicious of "bright green" technological optimism, which promises us that if we just build enough nuclear plants/wind farms (delete according to taste), then we can go on as gluttonously as before. Our need to change goes far beyond our carbon footprint, or even our entire ecological footprint.
And so it is not only possible and necessary, but good in all kinds of senses (not just ecologically, but psychologically, relationally, socially, spiritually) to shun consumerism, where "I am what I buy", and embrace the living and true God, who gives us every good thing to enjoy. This may mean embracing a life of "less", but in more important ways it is also walking towards a life of more, much more.
Less purchasing unnecessary products out of boredom, jealousy, indifference, laziness or habit; more attention to the wonderful blessings one already has. Less "stuff" and clutter; more reclaiming of lost skills of resourcefulness, sharing, creativity and building to last.
Less climbing the career ladder to keep up with the Joneses, to afford the latest toy or to impress the parents/peers/pets; more satisfaction in thoughtful service of the common good. Fewer debts; more freedom. Fewer hours; more time.
Less solitary living; more discovering the joys and sorrows of community. Fewer mansions and holiday homes and investment properties; more being at home in oneself and in God.
Less meat and animal products; more creativity and health in cooking. Less year round supply of whatever foodstuff takes my fancy today, more appreciation of the seasons and local produce. Less fast food; more hospitality. Less unceasing gorging; more cycles of mindful fasting and celebratory feasting.
Less advertising; more contentment. Fewer toys; more fun. Fewer shoes; more walks. Fewer wardrobe changes; more changes of heart. Fewer boxes; more room in life for the unexpected. Less retail therapy; more healing of desire.
Less unnecessary driving; more perambulation, pedalling and public transport for exercise, socialising and increasing intimacy with the local area. Less international travel; more depth of appreciation for local delights. Less business travel, more saving time and money through video conferencing. Less suburban sprawl; more new urbanism.
Less reliance on a finite supply of cheap energy to meet my every whim; more consideration of what is worth doing. Less watching; more observation.
Less wealth; more riches. Fewer heavy burdens of fear, guilt, desperation; more hope, forgiveness, peace. Less treasure that fades; more treasure that lasts.