Ego said: Some of the most honest people I know are illegal immigrants working illegally for illegal businesses selling products that they contractually agreed to export but rerouted back to the US.
While I agree that fair trade coffee and vegan coffee creamer can be more refined (in both senses of the word) versions of consumerism, there is a point where the way we spend our stored labor/time becomes unethical and immoral. Like Justice Stewart, I have trouble defining it but I know it when I see it.
I agree with you too. My use of the word "steward" implied a boatload of responsibility. None of us are perfect (certainly not moi by a loooong shot), but, IMO, it is kind of pathetic for anybody to claim full adult membership in society, if they can't at least, on balance, take responsibility for trying to leave a little bit less of a mess than they found. But, I try not to be judgmental about how other people attempt to do this. Maybe somebody believes he is doing his share by working hard and paying more taxes than most people, so his large motored speedboat consumer habits are mitigated. Maybe the near-morbidly obese, chain smoking social worker believes it is net more beneficial to work in her community in Zone 4 than mind her own habits in Zone 00. I generally believe that it is best to start from Zone 00 and proceed outwards, simply because most efficient and most sensibly motivated, but how can you or I even do that when we inhabit such a complex web that we usually have almost no clue where the products we use and consume every day are produced or under what circumstances? The starving baby or functionally illiterate child dropped on my doorstep or the radioactive fracking waste dumped in my compost pile simply can not be ignored or information overload-numbed out of existence. But, where does my rightful domain of action and responsibility end? Where am I profiting from yield, but not exhibiting care? Money is morally neutral but it does hold power, so it follows that wherever we choose to spend it we are claiming some bit of authority to which an equivalent bit of responsibility should be attached, if we wish to be net functioning as admirable (worthy of trust and respect) in our behavior as adults. Of course, those of us who hold more time/energy or other stuff than money are also responsible for the stewardship of those resources. Social class isn't or shouldn't about how much money you have managed to hoard. It is about how noble you behave. It is about washing all the dishes in the sink even if some of them aren't yours, because in that moment you inhabit the grace to afford to be generous in spirit.