Those who know me can attest to the extent of my caring about our planet and my loathing of the consumer culture. And those who know me can attest to my loathing of the mixing of state and religion. That's why I have a problem with the conclusions that Rachel Talshir draws עברית from the fact that our entire country goes into Consumer Paralysis Mode on Yom Kippur.
The explanation that the Orthodox give for their demand that retail establishments close on Sabbath and Yom Tovim is that if the latter were to remain open, other Jews (not themselves, heaven forfend) would then shop and violate the Sabbath. In other words, the problem isn't that they themselves would be thus tempted, but rather that violation of the Sabbath, by any Jews, would occur.
I find this reasoning offensive in its blatant paternalism: Though not Orthodox, I choose not to engage in retail transactions on the Sabbath because I see value therein; it's irrelevant whether others so indulge. Moreover, the demand that there be no retail engaged in on our Sabbath necessarily diminishes the human value of those non-Jews who wish to so engage. In other words, the Orthodox are saying, "Our need to prevent our Sabbath from being violated (as if that were possible in any case) trumps the needs or desires of anyone who isn't of our faith." It's unfortunate that few Orthodox will allow themselves to be exposed to a courageous Christian cleric like the one who said, " Any religion that must depend upon the state to do what it cannot do [i.e., force the citizenry to observe the commandments] is not worthy of existence...even Christianity." The very belief that any legislation reduces Sabbath-violating can fairly be described as madness.
I therefore admit to being positively gleeful when I read of the sweeping profits earned by those stores that did remain open on Rosh haShana [could not find link]. Of course it appears the Orthodox have no trouble looking the other way when such stores are where the goyim shop (referring to Tiv Taam, a chain patronized heavily by non-Jewish consumers); it's only us fellow Jews' abominations they're worried about.
While I'm all for consuming less, including of course less fossil fuel, I absolutely oppose the government piggybacking on religion to make it so. There are plenty of government interventions that I support solidly, such as investing in public transportation, levying tolls on cars entering cities, and mandating recycling (by the way, do the Orthodox lobby for these measures?), but let's not delude ourselves into thinking that blue laws are somehow a good thing for the entire Israeli public.