For centuries, humanity has focused on what Paul Hawken called the Take-Make-Waste model. Take what Nature has created in our Biosphere. Make what you want without regard to being a good Steward and replant to grow future resources. And last, but worst, create Waste that is not recycled nor repurposed.
This practice has last for millennia. It has crossed almost all cultures. It has been practiced in agrarian, as well as, industrial societies. It has occurred in Communist countries with little or no environmental regulations, to Capitalistic societies who often push back on environmental regulations.
But what has the been the cost? That varies from region to region. The sort answer is the loss of the Biosphere that may not be replicated or recovered from poor practices. In a changing world economy, all resources are precious. Can we still embrace the Take-Make-Waste model? Read what is an example in China: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141218081008.htm