"Do we really need all of these convenience products?"
Put down your iPhone and walk away.
Conservation is a good thing and people do it when it makes sense. When it doesn't make sense, government mandates it. Take recycling for example. If you have to pay extra for your recycling service, it doesn't make sense and is an overall net loss for the economy and the environment. Those extra dollars that you pay represent resources that could be applied to other things. In order to generate those extra dollars, you have to work harder, longer. Those extra dollars for recycling pay for those extra diesel guzzling trucks to transport the waste. They pay for the sorting and processing facilities that all burn energy.