conspicuous conservation
n. Using technology to live more frugally and to conserve resources.
Other Forms
Well-designed and expensive state-of-the-art machinery, from thermodynamically efficient washers/dryers and fuel-saving hybrid electric cars to resource-conscious smart homes, can easily outscrimp less advanced tools. Thus the concept of conspicuous conservation — being frugal in high style.
—Talin, “Conspicuous Conservation,” Wired, July 01, 1997
The 'dynamic market economy', to which Peter Mandelson has thirled the Labour party in his recent manifesto, derives its very dynamism largely from conspicuous consumption. The retail and niche-market revolutions of the 1980s have turned our high streets and malls into carnivals of mobile telephony, ecological fragrance, wine discrimination — whatever takes your fancy: armies of pin-sharp marketeers are out there systematising our most subtle hopes and fears, just so they can wedge a few widgets into the psychic gaps.

But if conspicuous conservation began to gain favour among the middle classes — where social esteem came from, say, a good stint at the local skills-barter exchange, rather than from another new stereo or car — then wouldn't one key plank of 21st-century consumer society be kicked away?
—Pat Kane, “Stop the materialistic world I want to get off,” Scotland on Sunday, March 10, 1996
1977 (earliest)
Family spending in the 1980's will follow a pattern of "conspicuous conservation," dictated by economic necessity and resulting in changing American life-styles.

The prediction of changes was made Thursday by Theodore J. Gordon, president of The Futures Group, a research organization, at a conference on consumers and spending.
—Louise Cook, Associated Press, May 19, 1977