Green or Greedy?

| Fri Feb. 19, 2010 5:43 PM EST

New Scientist is running an interesting feature revealing a gulf between public perception of a company's green performance and its actual green performance:

"If you care about the environment, you may want to show that in the way you spend your money. Do the corporations that benefit from our environmentally conscious purchasing and investment choices deserve their green halo?"

There's an interactive graphic you can play with to assess how a company is perceived versus how it performs. The assessment of public perception is based on a survey by Earthsense asking 30,000 US consumers to rate companies on a scale of 1 to 10. The assessment of actual performance is made by a company's Trucost score: the estimated cost of its environmental impact under a "polluter pays" system, as a percentage of its annual revenue.

The companies are broken down by sector: food and beverage, retail, media, travel and leisure, personal and household, industrial goods and services, technology, chemicals, construction and materials.

The companies range from the New York Times to Apple, Nike to Timberland, Burger King to Starbucks, and a bunch in between. You can also get a pretty good sense of how sectors perform in relation to other sectors: food and beverage, bad overall; technology, better overall.