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Holiday Shoppers Say They're Going Green -- But Are They Really?

This holiday season, more people are thinking about spending more to gift green, but with the economy tanking and unemployment levels at their highest in 15 years, there's likely to be even more of a gap between consumer attitudes and actions than ever before.

In Deloitte's recent annual holiday survey, that polled 10,000 consumers, 44 percent said they wanted to give green gifts — like the eco-friendly products at Big Green Purse — this holiday season. And of those, half said they'd be willing to pay between 10 to 25 percent more, while the remaining half are willing to pay 5 percent more.

One in five consumers (20 percent) also said they will purchase more eco-friendly products this holiday season than they did in the past, and a similar percentage said they may not wrap holiday gifts to conserve paper.

While these numbers look promising, how closely do they reflect reality? Do consumers even understand what being green really means? Back in September, the Shelton Group conducted a study called Ecopulse, which asked American consumers for their attitudes towards green marketing, and the results revealed that there was still very little understanding about what being environmentally friendly means.

Almost half of all respondents stated that a business's environmental record is important in their purchasing decisions. But only 21% stated that this had driven them to choose one product over another. Even more telling – just 7% could name the product they purchased.

Unless consumers become better educated about eco-friendly products, and the cost of these products become less expensive, it's unlikely that the next year will see a significant change in consumer behavior. What the Deloitte survey doesn't measure is whether green purchases, and not just green intent, have actually gone up. It's like asking people what their New Year's resolutions are – we all mean to lose weight, volunteer at the neighborhood soup kitchen and spend more time with our kids, but one month into the new year and these good intentions are often overshadowed by reality.