Gadget-hungry people and shrinking households are creating huge, unnoticed climate problems, a report says.
Four-wheel drive vehicles guzzle gas
As manufacturers produce increasingly energy-efficient goods to protect the climate, people are simply buying more of them - wiping out green benefits.
Analysis by Dutch academic Jan Kooijman for the UK packaging industry says more radical shifts in habits are needed.
He said people should use less heating and water, drive less, take fewer flights and live in larger households.
TOP FIVE TIPS FOR CONSUMERS
Reduce use of private transport
Have more fuel-efficient car
Make energy savings at home
Avoid wasting food and goods
Focus attention on big impacts
Source: Dr Jan Kooijman
Dr Kooijman says the current trend of people living alone is making matters worse because each household needs hundreds of essential items from toothpaste to toilet brushes and bread knives to clocks.
Each of these items has created greenhouse gases as part of the production process.
Although surveys reveal that people believe recycling is one of the best things they can do for the environment, Dr Kooijman - in a study for UK packaging industry body Incpen - says this is a myth.
While recycling does help the environment, Dr Kooijman says that using water wisely, walking, cycling or taking public transport instead of driving, and turning off electricity, all have much more impact.
Packaging industry 'aggrieved'
He says people should never to make a special car trip to the bottle bank as this wastes more energy than it saves.
Lowering the room temperature by two degrees saves almost the same amount of energy as used for the total year's supply of packaging for the average household, he calculates.
And he says by switching from a four-wheel drive car to a normal car for a year, a family could save as much energy as it does by 400 years of recycling bottles.
The packaging industry feels aggrieved it is being forced to improve its environmental performance while the government shies away from the root factors of climate change: lifestyles and a growing economy.
A government spokesman told BBC News it welcomed the report, and took the issues raised very seriously.