Philip Crosby wrote a seminal book (Quality is Free) in which he argued that it's cheaper to build things right the first time than it is to fix them later. Obvious now, but heresy in Detroit 1980. Quality quickly became not just a better way to manufacture, it became a marketing benefit as well. Not only was quality cheaper to make, it was cheaper to sell.
I'm struck that we need a new book, call it Efficiency is Free.
It's cheaper to build carpets that don't create poison gas than it is to do the easy thing and let people suffer later. It's cheaper to build an 8 passenger car that gets 30 miles per gallon than it is to suffer the consequences of the 12 mile per gallon Suburban. It's cheaper to design smaller, lighter and recyclable shipping containers once than it is to buy and hassle with billions of foam peanuts in the long run.
So why doesn't everyone do this? For the same reason the quality revolution took a full generation to take hold–it costs more right now. It takes planning right now. It requires change right now.
Right now will always be difficult. But efficiency is still free.