The list of businesses going "green" lengthens by the day. Household names such as Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and L'Oreal boast programmes to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, use natural resources more efficiently, recycle more and clear up pollution.

These initiatives have gained approval from consumers and praise from environmental groups, but what will happen if the economy slows?

Will companies continue to put efforts into improving their environmental credentials? Or will these green buds wither in the chill wind blowing through the markets?

Neil Kirkpatrick, leader of the sustainable solutions team at Arup, the engineering company, warns: "The principles of being environmentally friendly are commendable, but should the economic climate worsen they could be perceived as too expensive for most businesses."