On almost every level the Pakistani room mate was right. Look at any supermarket. 90% of the stuff on the shelves is packaged the way it is for convenience - but that convenience costs us. The very existence of that store is a matter of convenience. - and THAT costs us. I live near a town of 7,687 people (plus or minus 13 on any given day). It has TWO grocery stores either of which is capable of feeding that many people but one has higher priced, better quality goods and the other has lower priced, and in most cases, lower quality goods and they probably split the town's population between them... if we don't account for the fact that many in the town travel routinely outside the town at distances that give them access to other markets entirely. So, 1/3 of the shopping gets done somewhere else, 1/3 gets done at store #1, 1/3 gets done at store #2. HUGE amounts of convenience thinking driving that profile.
One of the things we need to accept is that most of the "convenience" availability drives extra material extraction from the natural world (it was expedient when the process got started and nobody has complained so it continues) and massive uses of energy, most derived from fossil fuels (coal, oil, or gas). When I talk about We The People needing to re-assume responsibility for EVERY joule of energy that is expended on our behalf every day, this convenience function is the big chunk of what I mean when I say that. Our egregious consumption of energy is almost entirely about convenience. Gas in your two or three cars? Much more convenient than hitching up two or three horses to go to town and several other places. Faster, more comfortable, safer, more weather resistant, nicer ride - more convenient.
Turning on the lights? Much easier and cleaner and more convenient than filling the oil lamp with kerosene, trimming the wick, lighting it (make sure you protect your ceilings from the column of heat from that chimney if it's wall mounted). Pushing a button on the food processor? Much easier, cleaner, less work than hand chopping or mincing the ingredients for supper... if your cooking "from scratch"! Maybe not - just reach into that freezer and take out some pot pies, frozen vegetables, and cook a couple of potatoes in the microwave - all relying on electricity piped through your walls to convenient outlets.
Americans are awash in functions of convenience, so much so, that it's almost impossible to escape - unless you simply move out of it entirely, into a space that was not occupied by the convenience culture before. It can be done. It's either that "move out" or engage the level of rigor and discipline to not use and avoid all the mechanisms of convenience that surround our every moment... or move out into unformed space and create your own "inconvenient" personally energy responsible space.
Its up to us to solve this problem. Its about our consumption - our excessive consumption. If we don't change that, then we are headed for the scrap heap to join every other species that has ever lived... and gone extinct. The biggest reason for extinction is habitat loss. We are on the verge of losing ours too.