Seeing as i am in NYC which, according to popular legend, is addicted to shopping - I'm gonna spell out my own guide. Candace Bushnell I ain't - I've got something more on my mind.
I am talking a sort of enviro-consumption or eco-consumption or whatever you might like to call it (never fear still involves the "consuming").
My guide has three basic tenets. The first and third you've heard so many times I might just make you yawn... (sorry to the apex staff who I am sure are the only souls reading this in any case).
1). LESS IS MORE
Believe me clothes and shoes can easily last for 10 years at a stretch: 15 years if they are only worn seasonally. (I admit I get bored with myself still having stuff that I wore at university but...)
So spend a little more for quality and then treat it better (see below) - so your overall consumer footprint is smaller.
The minute you get home change into "sloppies". Only where "sloppies" in the immediate vicinity of your house - for me in life that means sabout 4 blocks in any direction from my house (you get used to the strange looks). And if you go to the office on the weekend - only where the same badass, stained, holey, torn, faded, misshappen stuff (it's comfortable by the way).
2). ONLY BY GOODS PRODUCED IN THE REGION/ECONOMIC ZONE IN WHICH YOU LIVE
This might also cost a little more - but it is the only way of reducing carbon footprints and encouraging local economies and historically important artisanal crafts/indutries.
ie. When in the United States only buy/drink wine from the United States
Remember there is wine produced in Oregon and Washington State as well as the Nappa Valley: that have more idiomatic and perhaps European flavors.
I can recommend: "Independent Producers: sunset road vinters" Destiny Ridge 2006 Merlot (Columbia Valley, Washington State) 11.99 Union Square Wines
Only buy clothes produced in the NAFTA zone.
I tried to do this yesterday, however, (when walking back downtown from midtown) Gap, Banana Republic, Guess, Kenneth cole - and I couldn't find a single plain black shirt made in the NAFTA zone!! Something gone wrong there.
Now in Europe this is easier to do - but also more important - because there is still a chance to buttress European industries from the Asian encroachment - but in America I am going to damned well try.
I'm not interested in the US balance of trade (it's been screwed for too long to remember) but this could've been a means a decade ago to keep a more even keel.
3. SAY NO TO PACKAGING
Self-explanatory this one. Carry a spare shopping bag... and don't buy stuff that's excessively wrapped in plastic.
Now if only Ms. Bushnell had written a few themes like this into her tales-of-the-city...