I can't be the only one that noticed how far a few retailers went over the weekend to promote their Earth Day-friendly ways. If you slept through it, I've got a few examples for you.

  • Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) promoted its free in-store recycling program, where consumers can deposit used cell phones, inkjet cartridges, and rechargeable batteries. The consumer electronics superstore pointed out how 15 million pounds of electronics were recycled through Best Buy's programs last year.
  • Home Depot (NYSE:HD) gave away a million compact fluorescent light bulbs yesterday, pointing to how the deed reduced 196 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions (or the equivalent of removing 70,000 cars).
  • Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) launched an ad campaign singling out its own eco-friendly merchandise, launching www.walmart.com/green as a hub for its organic cotton apparel, energy-efficient appliances, and environmentally conscious media titles.

Seeing leading retailers go green on Earth Day may be the politically correct "right thing to do," but it's also about seeing a different kind of green. Best Buy won't go to your home to collect those dated handsets. It wants you to drop them off inside the stores, hoping for a shot at an incremental sale. It's similar to Blockbuster (NYSE:BBI) giving away free in-store exchanges to its Total Access online subscribers, hoping the impulse items will call your attention.

Home Depot's giveaway is certainly generous. Those CFL bulbs aren't as cheap as conventional bulbs. However, that too may be the catalyst to upgrading your entire home's lighting, preferably at Home Depot.

Wal-Mart gets brownie points for its green ads, but it too is about sending customers its way to snap up organic and energy-efficient items. Some shoppers may never even have known that Wal-Mart stocked the stuff.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great to see retailers making moves that are environmentally and fiscally sound. I just think it's important to remember that those two intentions are often joined at the hip when we start handing out corporate halos.

It's not cynicism. It's just business.

For more, be sure to check out what the Motley Fool's best had to say about being green and how it can turn into investment returns in "The Motley Fool Goes Green."

Wal-Mart and Home Depot are Inside Value recommendations. If you're into shedding a little less green in your pursuit of green, try the value-investing newsletter for the next 30 days with a free trial subscription offer.

Best Buy is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz digs CFL bulbs -- even if they do remind him of illuminated curly fries. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.