Two Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge companies are celebrating this week after achieving Business Awards from Litter Free Coast & Sea Somerset.

Sopha in Highbridge and Watermark Wealth Management in Burnham-On-Sea received their awards on Wednesday (June 19th), having completed all three levels of the award scheme.

Chloé Walker-Panse, Community Engagement Officer for Litter Free Coast & Sea Somerset, presented the companies with their awards during special visits, as pictured here.

The Business Award scheme encourages businesses to consider their full environmental footprint and make changes in their waste arrangements and the products they use to minimise harm to the environment.

Matt Scott, Sopha’s Founder, said: “When we opened we made the decision that we wanted to be different to other furniture retailers and one of the ways we wanted to do this was through becoming a sustainable business, which is why we have tasked Emma to be our Sustainability Co-ordinator. Working within the structure of schemes such as this one has helped us notice parts of our business that we could further improve and also greatly improves the awareness of sustainable practices to other businesses.”

“Becoming sustainable is often thought of as being expensive but actually the changes that come with higher costs are often levelled out by those which end up saving cost. For example our LED lighting was a significant investment but we can now light the entire building using less electricity than boiling two kettles. Plus using less will always cost less!”

“For us as a furniture retailer we feel the largest changes are those we are working on by partnering with manufacturers. We’re working with one bed manufacturer who have committed to go foam-free within 12 months. Did you know that all the mattresses that are landfilled every year would fill Trafalgar Square to the top? That’s an awful lot of plastic and chemical based foams!”

“Replacing polyester with hemp creates a mattress that will last longer, whilst absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere as the hemp grows than the entire mattress manufacturing process emits – making a truly carbon negative product. Other simple changes are also making a huge difference; recycling fabric offcuts from the manufacturing process into loft insulation through to turning sawdust into pellets that can be used to heat the factories. We’re also examining each of our manufacturers material sourcing, reducing the miles travelled wherever possible and ensuring that timber comes from sustainable sources.”

“The coffee shop has been the easiest place to make the changes which have included switching ketchup sachets with ramekins, along with decisions we’d already made such as using glass bottles rather than plastic. Also schemes such as offering discount to those who bring their own re-fillable mug for takeaways benefit our customer’s pockets too!”

“Since completing the scheme we are now working on new eco-friendly packaging for several exciting new product categories and product ranges for later in the year as well as some other projects that we hope to announce within the next few months. Details will be posted via our social media channels.”

The Watermark Wealth Management team, pictured above, are also delighted with their award.

A spokesman added: “We heard about the scheme through the Burnham chamber of commerce meeting and wanted to do more, in line with our new ESG policy.”

“With a few easy changes to our practices and procedures, it took about a month to get everything in place to comply.”

Asked whether they would recommend it to other businesses, he said: “We would definitely recommend the scheme to all businesses, it doesn’t take a lot to implement and each business that does will be helping the environment in their own little way. If everyone did it, that would make a big difference.”