While pundits argue over whether you should perform life-cycle assessment/analysis (LCA) or measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions before writing your environmental story, customers are becoming more and more leery of “greenwashing” or false claims.

Even consumers who are weekend environmentalists at best scoff at companies that promote “green” products but don’t offer any scientific-based proof to back up their claims. And true-blue LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) consumers do more than scoff-they actively campaign against these companies and all of their products.

But you can’t just do nothing; you have to do something: Your customers want to know where your products stand before they buy them, whether it’s information needed for the Wal-Mart scorecard or to meet internal sustainability goals. If you wait until everyone agrees on a standard, you’ll still be waiting the day your business goes under.

And the cost of measuring greenhouse gas emissions or of completing a full-scale LCA on every product prevents most companies from doing both.

So what’s a flexible packaging converter to do? Especially when there are so many different ways of performing an LCA or of measuring GHG emissions that it’s hard to compare apples to apples?

Trust the government.The Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov) can provide technical and educational assistance, and has a number of tools available to companies on what to measure and how.

Keep your ear to the ground.Through competitive intelligence, find out what methods other flexible packaging converters are using. This is how a lot of “industry” standards develop. As one source, a webpage on the Flexible Packaging Association website (www.flexpack.org) lists various members with links to their sustainability activities (in the left-hand menu, click on Sustainable Packaging and look for FPA member initiatives and activities).

Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.Regardless of which method you use, just be truthful and transparent in what you’ve done and how you’ve done it.