We’ve all read surveys ‘proving’ ‘green’ products and practices go straight to the bottom line. Like the fact 25% of consumers in The Grocer/YouGov survey say the environment is of greater concern now than at the start of the recession vs only 20% for whom it’s now of lesser importance.

But for the first time, the research we commissioned tested these assertions in the real world. We found 55% of shoppers don’t consider the environment at all when they’re shopping. That extends as much to products as retailers: only 3% always consider the environment in the choices they make.

Is this surprising? Not really. What the consumer says and does are often two entirely different things, never more so than with the environment and especially in the context of a hideous economy.

To put it another way, if the environment really was, on balance, more important a consideration for shoppers today, The Co-op acknowledged again by our poll as the greenest grocery chain would be riding high in the charts, while Tesco would be plugging its latest eco-store rather than launching (finally) next week’s major pricing offensive.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been major progress: this issue is full of examples or retailers and suppliers addressing the environment in one way or another. Our research also shows a real commitment on the part of consumers to recycling, and widespread use of BRC and other recycling instructions (though hampered once again by the realities of time, space and the lack of joined-up local government thinking, with only 23% using them all the time, and 30% using them rarely or never).

There’s also food for thought for the Daily Mail and the Welsh in the consumer’s dismissal of plastic bags as a major environmental issue (just 4% of those polled).

As the failure of the Roses/Heroes cartins proved (The Grocer, 3 September), if consumers won’t buy it, neither will the industry.