A recent consumer study suggests that an eco-friendly image is a great corporate asset, especially for global companies. Businesses that make sustainability part of their missions might not only benefit their bottom lines, but also garner greater goodwill from consumers.

In the U.S., Burt's Bees, Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI), Tom's of Maine (owned by Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL)), Trader Joe's, and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) composed the list's top five (in order), while Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ) Aveeno entered the top 10 this year.

The survey was conducted by WPP's Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates, as well as Penn Schoen Berland (part of WPP and Young Rubicam) and environmental consultant Esty Environmental Partners. The agencies polled roughly 9,000 folks in the U.S., Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, U.K., and Australia.

Worldwide, more than 60% of those surveyed consumers expressed the desire to buy from environmentally responsible companies. But here in the U.S., only 35% of those surveyed expressed the inclination to spend more on environmentally sustainable products -- a 4% decrease from 2009. Is innovating for a better future losing its attractiveness for some consumers?

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