At the risk of being irreverent, Dale's post (which I like very much) reminds me of a remark allegedly made by Otto von Bismarck: "People who like sausage and respect the law should never know how either one is made."
I admit to a great deal of ambivalence on this issue. I use Patagonia clothing pretty much exclusively - primarily because their stuff fits me better than anything else I've found. However, I do smugly tell myself (as I wheel my weekly can full of trash to the curb) that I'm at least doing a little something to help recycle by buying their clothes.
My alcohol stove makes me put on a Colin-Fletcherish halo: "I no longer burn fossil fuels when I'm in the backcountry - just a few ounces of alcohol, which is renewable." Of course, I used gallons of gasoline as I drove my car to the trailhead.
One thing I've learned from studying history is that we can never go back - only forward. We can change the current state of the industry - not politically, but by our purchasing power decisions. Don't like sweatshops? Then buy only US-made packs - even if they weigh and cost more. Petroleum-based synthetics bother you? Feel free to wear cotton and wool. Mining a problem? Use wood fires and find a wooden hiking staff. (I won't belabor the point with more examples.) I, for one, don't want to go back to the days of canvas, cotton, and leather. I like my titanium, spinnaker cloth, and such.
However, I can decide to carry less gear, replace it less often (don't tell my wife I said that), choose gear made from recycled products (can I really get used to a pop-can stove instead of my Trangia?), spend the weekend "simulating" a backpack trip by camping illegally in the woods at the local (and boring) state park instead of driving 500 miles to the prettier Red River Gorge, etc. I can also choose to pass my used gear on to someone else, to help more people get out and become aware of the issues. We'll never eliminate our impact - all we can do is moderate it within our power.