From the February 2008 issue of Entrepreneur

You see big corporations jumping on the latest packaging trends, from temperature-sensitive labels (Coors Light) and packaging reduction programs (Wal-Mart) to revamped looks (Kleenex's oval-shaped box) and new materials (bio-based plastics). But what can you do on an entrepreneur's budget?

Packaging is getting lighter, more flexible and greener, says Ben Miyares, vice president of industry relations for the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute. Making such changes to packaging can be an expensive project, but Miyares says it can help to "use contract packagers, who can afford to install equipment for short runs, which an entrepreneur might not be able to afford [otherwise]."

The owners of The Honest Kitchen, Lucy and Charlie Postins, 33 and 36, respectively, spent $175,000 to develop environmentally friendly packaging for their pet foods. They hired a packaging consultant to help create their new flexible barrier bag--which costs $2 more per unit than their previous packaging but is made of biodegradable, post-consumer, recycled paperboard with soy-based inks.

"We had this long-term goal to reduce our carbon pawprint, as we jokingly refer to it," says Lucy, who projects 2008 sales of $5 million for the San Diego-based company. "It'll definitely pay dividends in the long run, just by having a more genuine message. We're not just saying we're environmentally friendly and different--we're really committing to it."

Holly Bohn, 34, sells stylish office supplies through her e-commerce venture, See Jane Work, and wanted to create a high-end boutique experience, including stylish packaging, online. She couldn't afford everything on her packaging wish list, so she came up with creative solutions like using colorful labels on plain boxes instead of buying expensive printed boxes. When Bohn's customers complained that her boxes weren't recyclable--a feature she couldn't afford--she invested in heavier boxes that could be reused and included a small card with each shipment offering reuse ideas. "You'd think that paying attention to [these kinds] of details would be a waste of time when we have so many other things we're trying to do," says Bohn, who projects 2008 sales of $4.3 million for her Thousand Oaks, California, company. "But [our packaging] turned out to be a real signature for our brand."

Like many entrepreneurs, Holly Bohn couldn't afford to use recyclable packaging for her products. But with a little ingenuity, she found a way to offer customers the next best thing.