The global economic recession which hit with such force in late 2008 poses significant challenges to those consumers who had begun to act more responsibly in their general consumption. Suddenly faced with uncertainty and financial insecurity, the fear amongst ethical marketers was that their own green shoots of a new more environmental focus in developed economies would be swept away in the rush to make decisions based solely on price and promotion. To understand the full context of these changes we commissioned our own study which aimed to answer a number of core issues which have been a focus of academic and commercial study over recent years. Why do consumers not behave in the way they claim when asked about environmental / ethical purchases? What impact has the new recessionary focus with its concentration on price and promotion led activity, really had on consumers' responsible decision making? Can we develop a clearer picture of the future for responsible consumerism by focusing on actual rather than claimed behaviour? This paper begins with a plea for a clearer, cleaner language to be adopted by the marketing community, discusses contextual observations based on the UK experience of the recession and finally reveals some findings and implications from our study. We set this against previous thinking which has sought to explain differences between what consumers say and what they actually do.