U.S. retailers may be touting their environmental-friendliness this year, but just about the only "green" in evidence for the holidays is in the usual Christmas decorations.
Thick catalogs continue to clog mailboxes, store personnel keep handing out free gift boxes, and plastic bags are everywhere.
There is little to no signage in stores emphasizing eco-friendly products, beyond those at select chains known for their environmental thrust.
"There are a lot of stories in the media about 'green,"' said Laurie Brooks, a spokeswoman for L.L. Bean, which sells clothing and outdoor gear.
"I think it really hasn't trickled down to the consumer level yet," Brooks said.
And amid fears that shoppers may clamp down on holiday spending in the wake of higher food and fuel prices, the slowing U.S. housing market and the credit crunch, retailers are loath to do anything to turn off their clientele.
"The consumer is consumed with other things, and very rarely have they ever endorsed and embraced the green endeavors," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at research firm NPD Group.
Green In The Background
As fears over global warming have dominated headlines this year, numerous retailers have announced new and expanded plans to cut down on waste and run stores more efficiently.
Wal-Mart Stores, which has a goal of one day being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy and creating zero waste, is pushing its vendors to reduce the amount of packaging they use and make products that consume less power.
Department store operator Kohl's is working on implementing rooftop solar energy systems, while consumer electronics chain Best Buy is giving grants to organizations that hold electronics recycling events.
But this holiday season, there is a divide between the environmental tactics retailers are implementing behind the scenes -- like building stores with recycled materials or using hybrid vehicles -- and the shopping experience they provide.
During the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, a Wal-Mart store in Columbia, Maryland, had no displays of the efforts the world's largest retailer is making to go green.