I think part of what the critics of "consumerism" are motivated by is the increased specialization of production which ensued from the Commercial and Industrial Revolutions. Instead of molding their own bowls and carving their own spoons of wood and fashioning their own stools to sit on, people bought much better and cheaper stuff from Wedgewood, Chipendale and other manufacturers. People had consumed before, but the production was invisible as it occurred in in cottages.
I think another part of what critics have in mind is that a good bit of consumption is in the form of positional goods - keeping up with the Jonses (or showing you got ahead of them). Now I think the competition for social status is a human universal and not likely to be changed by mewling moralists. I think competition by striving to get the baubles - the Ferraris, the Guccis, etc. - is far less damaging than many of the alternatives. People will compete for social status; it is simply a question of what form the competition will take. The great triumph of modernity is in replacing the quest for glory and honor with the quest for stuff.