Ethical Buisness: Ethical Life. Vol 3.

Welcome tEBEL logoo Ethical Business: Ethical Life – we aim to showcase the people behind the amazing Ethical Businesses we meet through running Ethical Pets.This third edition is about Tanya Vaughan, an interior designer from Lincolnshire. We met Tanya only a few weeks ago, when she bought one of our Eco Donut beds for her dog Wrighty – we got to chatting and well… as you can see, she is pretty inspiring!

When did you start your ethical business, what are your ethical principles and how do they guide and motivate you?

I hadn’t set out specifically to start an ethical business, or indeed a business at all! I had been decorating and designing houses for years without stopping to think about it, from digging my own drainage trenches (never again…) to shipping a huge pair of doors back from Morocco, to mount on a wall. It took a long time to twig that I should transform this passion into a business.

picture of design plans
Tracing paper plans – recyclable!

The idea was easy enough, having run my own market research business for a number of years, and the only challenge was my confidence – essentially putting myself on the line. What if no-one likes my ideas? The answer to that, in my business, is very easy – they just won’t hire you. The ones who do like it, will. A nerve-wracking realization.

For me, running my business ethically has just been a natural integration of what I do at home, and taking that into the workplace. From printing as little as possible, to choosing FSC certified paper for my letterhead or paying a little bit extra for green energy, the way I do everyday tasks translate very well from home to business. My studio is a couple of minutes walk from home, and I live in Stamford, which is a bustling and cosmopolitan market town with a wealth of independent shops, and small businesses to serve me, all within walking distance.

In re-designing a house, a room,  considering knocking an existing building down and starting again, you begin to take notice of how much can get discarded, whether it’s an old chair, a cheap sofa that was bought as a stop-gap, or the bricks & mortar of a 1950s bungalow making way for a sleek and contemporary family home. You certainly notice new things. Some of them are utterly gorgeous. Clients want them.  So in an arena where the acquisition of things seemingly plays such key role, I ask myself all the time, how can I make this sustainable?

So, how do you make designs sustainable?

Fundamentally, I support good design. Good design means a lot of things. What it doesn’t mean to me is spending money for it’s own sake, to brag, show-off, or provide fleeting excitement and interest only to be discarded when the next thing comes along. There are products designed specifically to attract these people. I am not interested, and I won’t recommend them to clients. I am also unlikely to be dealing with that kind of client! I am constantly on the lookout for vintage and antique pieces, re-using what already exists in the world, sometimes with an update, sometimes used in a different way to which it was intended. When looking at anything new, I am interested in products that are designed with a lot of thought, that are made by people who are paid a fair wage for what they do.  I look for products that are designed with longevity in mind, so that they will be kept for a very long time – even if that means being sold or given to someone else. Because if they are not, they only end up in one place – landfill.

The most important thing about the fabric of any building is how it stores and uses energy. So regardless of whether it’s made of timber, concrete, steel, or glass, how that structure retains heat, or keeps out heat, is key. This is one of the most sustainable aspects of building, and taken in it’s wider sense, can mean things like putting in large glass panels with specifications that far exceed the regulations, which not only keep the heat in, but positioned correctly, can let more sunlight in in the winter to help heat the room inside. Making it nice and toasty inside is one thing, given the right design and materials, a sustainable building is one that is going to serve it’s purpose for a very long time to come, contributing positively to the lives of the people who use it.

Describe an average day in the life of you.

I generally get up any time from 6, as I have so much to do. It’s a luxury to sit with a cup of tea in PJs answering emails or checking information on-line and watching the sun come up, particularly if I am staying in Norfolk to oversee the project that is taking up most of my time at the moment, where a blue jay and a woodpecker shout loudly on the trees outside the kitchen window.

photo of Wrighty the dog
Wrighty. Now 14, he is a bit deaf and grey round the chops…

I can be working on plans, whether its working out wall thicknesses for bespoke door frames, or drawing elevations, or I can be chasing sub-contractors, checking quotes, placing orders, or sourcing lighting or furniture. Site visits involve warm clothes, a tape measure and a sense of humor – there is always something to throw a spanner in the works! If something really hasn’t gone to plan, then a blast on the beach with the mutt usually de-stresses me and I can come back with a clear head to think through a creative solution. Having a project in such lovely countryside is a fundamental part of how I want the business to continue – being able to stay here for several days a week to project manage is such a treat. When the sun hits the sand dunes and the salt marsh, with the grasses rustling and the colors all greys and greens, I have no desire to jet away to remote shores.

wedding photo
On Tanya’s Wedding… “We used local suppliers for almost everything, even the deck chairs that people sat on during the ceremony.”

I regularly get out and about searching for stuff – fabric, furniture, light fittings, and often find myself at antiques fairs, or dealers’ showrooms to view something in particular that might work for a specific room. I always love getting something old into a scheme, and love being part of the decorative industry that finds value in these beautifully crafted objects with all of their history and patina of age. Sometimes this means working with a designer-maker directly, for example here in Norfolk I have found wonderful craftspeople making wall hangings, a pottery that makes ceramic pendant lights, even the builders, who might not have built a wall with that finish before, but working together we make it happen and we haven’t had to either compromise on the design, or ship in some expensive and unnecessary expertise or product from elsewhere – my first stop is always local craftsmen and tradespeople.

Any words of wisdom?

Put your flag in the ground, stand tall and be passionate about your business. In the words of Aung San Suu Kyi “If you have chosen a certain path ..walk it with satisfaction and with determination and try not to make it appear as a tremendous sacrifice…Whatever you do out of your own free will, that should be a gift that you give to life or to those whom you love”

All links below were broken so have been removed

Tanya’s website is having a little makeover at the moment, but check out her Facebook and Twitter to see more of her amazing designs and wonderful, ethical, life. Here is what Tanya had to say about Ethical Pets:

“I just wanted to say how impressed I am by your ethical policy statement. Most ethical policies I have read seem a bit vague.. yours is so comprehensive regarding all aspects of your business and personal lives. I will be forwarding your website address to many friends I know who will be really interested!”

Pet Food: Why Organic?


What does “organic” mean in relation to pet food?



Animal Welfare: For Yarrah as an organic pet food company, the most important aspect of organic agriculture is the very high regard for animal welfare. Poultry, cattle and fish form the basis of our premium Nature’s Finest pet food. It is therefore crucial that these animals are treated with dignity and respect. Organic agriculture guarantees that poultry and cattle have room to move and grow at a natural rate in an environment that minimizes stress. Because regulation regarding organic fish do not meet our standards of animal welfare, Yarrah has decided to switch to MSC-fish (read our statement!).
Nothing artificial: Yarrah does not add any chemical colorings, aromatic substances or flavorings. We do not use artificial preservatives: we preserve our dry food with vitamin E and rosemary extracts. For our wet food we use precise temperatures for sterilization. These steps ensure that the valuable vitamins and minerals are not broken down during production.
Our natural and organic recipes contain all the required vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids a dog or cat requires in the correct proportions. All of our products are made from certified organic materials in compliance with EU Regulations for Organic Products. The Dutch organic hallmark (EKO) issued by Skal is the guarantee for the organic origin and manufacture of the products.

All certified organic ingredients are completely traceable to the source. All the organic materials are constantly monitored from start to finish ensuring they meet our stringent requirements. To be sure all the ingredients are 100% organic, Yarrah buys all the ingredients themselves. To give this 100% guarantee the Quality manager of Yarrah visits the producers personally; the larger ones at least once a year, the smaller once at least every other year.

No animal testing: Yarrah deliberately rejects any and all animal testing. Any palatability tests (to gauge the pets acceptance of the product) are carried out in the pets natural home setting. Yarrah does not allow any of our foods to be tested using either captive animals or invasive testing techniques. This has some consequences for our health claims. We cannot claim that our products have beneficial influences for your pet. Luckily there are many people who are very happy with our products and are willing to tell this to others.
Alternative testing: How do we test our products? Simple: if we want to introduce a new flavour or a new product, we ask about 100 dog or cat owners to feed the new product to their pet. Of course none of the ingredients has a health risk, so it is absolutely safe for the pet to eat the new product. If they like the product, we will adopt the new product. We are proud that we can use the logo of the Dutch Society against animal testing.

Why organic pet food? Is it better for our pets?




Yes, organic pet food is better than conventional pet food because what it does NOT have. A dog in general is not very picky when it comes to food. If the food smells good, the dog will eat it. There is a reason that most if not all dogs will always eat (high end) conventional food, the added chemical scents or fragrances that are applied ensure this.

The second reason that organic is better is the lack of preservatives. Conventional dog food is preserved with chemical preservatives to give the food a longer sell by date. Organic pet food has a short shelf life because no chemical preservatives are applied. Natural/organic antioxidants such as rosemary extracts are used instead.Are these chemical fragrances and preservatives really healthy for dogs? Probably not. Can these chemicals cause irritations in dogs? Maybe, but why risk it when they can be avoided.
Arguing that the organic grain and meat ingredients being better than conventional can be controversial. There are many studies that prove organic agriculture produces higher quality, more nutritious products, but there are also studies that claim there are no differences. What organic pet food CAN guarantee is that there are no chemical pesticide residues, genetically modified organisms or pharmaceutical residues in the food.
Organic pet food, at least in Yarrah’s case, also guarantees that we do not use bones, feathers, hooves, blood or other cheap fillers in our products.
Does organic food improve animal welfare for farm animals and wild animals (too)?
Organic farm animals are treated much better than animals in the conventional farming industry. An organic chicken for instance lives twice as long and has over 16 times more space to live on and is able to go outside. The beef Yarrah uses, are completely  grass-fed so no tropical forest have to be cut to grow soy. Organic farmers do not use dangerous pesticides, so also small rodents and useful insects like bees are not harmed.
What changes would Yarrah like to see in the pet food industry? Where would you like pet food to be in 100 years?



The first thing other pet food producers should stop doing, is testing their food on animals in kennels. A dogs life should not be used in this way; it has a right to have a normal life among people in a family.
The next step should be informing the customer truthfully about their products and where the ingredients come from. It is a terrible idea that people do not know that they are feeding their pets with meat of animals that are kept in small cages, with no room to live.
In 100 years, but hopefully much sooner, all pet owners will get the message that harming one animal to feed another is not acceptable. They will demand to know what is in their pet food, they will realize that chemical flavors, fragrances and colors are not needed, and will pick their brand of pet food purely on quality standards and not the amount of marketing budget a brand has available.

Ethical Buisness; Ethical Life. Vol 1.

Welcome to Ethical Business: Ethical Life – we aim to showcase the people behind some of the amazing Ethical Businesses we have met through running Ethical Pets. This first volume is about Kevin, a friend, customer and all round inspiring guru chap. He runs a great small business called Lakeside Ethical Treats… and he does it all to raise funds for West Midlands Vegan Campaigns! It’s hard to sum up Kevin without gross overuse of words such as “dynamic” and “enthusiastic”. I think he is most simply encapsulated by his answer to the question “how many hours a week do you work”, he replied “Personally I wouldn’t call it work! But it’s got to be over 70 I think.”

When did you start your ethical business and what happened next?

My group Midlands Vegan Campaigns organizes the annual West Midlands Vegan Festival and various other vegan/animal awareness events throughout the year. With the festival costs increasing every year, I spent many months considering how I could raise more funds. It obviously had to be something ethical, but I also wanted to do something that would itself promote Veganism.

The idea came to me at The West Midlands Vegan Festival in October 2010: the festival featured 2 new stallholders, Goody Good Stuff sweets and Moo Free Chocolate. Goody Good Stuff sold out half way through the day and went home, and Moo Free also had an excellent day. Within 2 weeks of the festival, I had ordered a load of stock from both companies and Lakeside Ethical Treats was born!

First of all, we had stalls at various fairs and sanctuary open days in the run up to Christmas 2010 – and then an on-line store was set up too. The ‘shop’ soon started to stock delicious chocolate creme eggs, made by Birmingham based Chocolate Wendy House (consistently our most popular product over the past 2 years). The trial period went extremely well: it was clear the shop had great potential.

Since then the stock range has increased to over 120 lines! I believe that Lakeside Ethical Treats is now the biggest vegan confectionery shop in the world, and it’s without doubt the only vegan sweet shop to be run by volunteers to allow all the profits to go back into vegan awareness events!

photo of kevin with his dog toby
Kevin and Toby (who is a big fan of Ethical Pets!)

The West Midlands Vegan Fair cost over £10,000 to run this year, and while Lakeside Ethical Treats helps to meet this cost, the shop has become about much more than fund-raising. During 2011, our stalls could be found at over 80 events throughout the year, everything from local group meetings, rallies, food fairs and big festivals.

The shop really showcases the vast array of vegan chocolate, sweets and snacks available – therefore promoting Veganism itself..

Describe an average day in the life of you.

My life revolves around vegan/animal rights/environmental campaigning and awareness raising. That’s the way it’s been pretty much since I first got involved over 15 years ago. My life is far from conventional – I admit to being totally and utterly obsessed!

Much of my time is spent organizing vegan/cruelty-free fairs and festivals. For example, taking stall bookings, arranging speakers/cookery demonstrators, updating the website, designing leaflets, promoting the events via magazine adverts, social media, press releases etc.

When orders for chocolates etc come in they need packing and dispatching and I of course have to update the shop website and maintain stock levels, making sure there’s enough stock for the big events.

I’m active in the animal rights movement in various other ways too, for example, I help

Photo of kevin doing a talk
Kevin at the Brighton March for Farmed Animals

coordinate coach transport to national demonstrations. I also run The Redditch Green Fair and I am the moderator for the Redditch Freegle group, which I formed 7 years ago – it now has over 12,000 members!

To top this all off, I am a Green Party activist and Parish Councilor for the village of Feckenham, which is within the borough of Redditch.

What are your ethical principles and how do they guide and motivate you?

Firstly and most importantly, everything I put my name to has got to be cruelty-free and vegan. Environmental friendliness is also critical.

Although I was not fully aware of the animal farming industries until my mid-twenties, compassion and eco-living has dominated my entire life.

This is largely down to my Mother, who was, for example, campaigning against the Canadian seal slaughter way back in the early 1960’s. My best friends have always been the animals around me and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The wonder of animals and the natural world is imprinted within me, just like words through a stick of Blackpool rock.

In this over-consuming mad world, I struggled, at first, to come to terms with the idea of selling products, but eventually I came to the conclusion that food is the most ethical product to sell – particularly when it’s vegan and organic, fair-trade, locally produced etc. Most products from Lakeside Ethical Treats tick several of these boxes.

People will always want to buy sweets and chocolate, so you can’t get much more ethical than Vegan confectionery sold in aid of vegan awareness raising!

Any words of wisdom?

People are more ready than ever to taste the delights of Vegan cuisine and to learn the benefits of plant based diets – many are now changing their diets as a result. A massive 54% of visitors to this year’s West Midlands Vegan Fair were non-vegans!

We need to take advantage of peoples growing curiosity: the time is ripe for compassionate vegans to get more organized and coordinate food fairs and festivals everywhere. Don’t say it can’t be done in your town: look at what has happened in Wolverhampton!

Donald Watson, founder of The Vegan Society and inventor of the word “vegan” said in 1944:

“A common criticism is that the time is not yet ripe for our reform. Can time ever be ripe for any reform unless it is ripened by human determination?”

So, lets get more active and speed up the dawn of a vegan world!!

kevin in a santa hat
Come and meet Kevin at the Kings Heath Christmas Fair!

Come and buy some yummy chocolate from Lakeside Ethical Treats at the Kings Heath, Birmingham Cruelty-Free Christmas Fair – on Sat 15th Dec, 10.30 till 4pm

Ethical Pets will be there too!!

Launching soon: Ethical Business, Ethical Life

We love working with other ethical businesses, and have decided to showcase some of the amazing people behind them. We would like firstly to introduce some of the great people we have met since we started up a year ago, and secondly – well, we want to meet even more great people too!

The “Ethical Business, Ethical Life” series will consist of short interviews with people who run their own ethical business: we will ask about how the business got started, what day to day life is like in their office, what motivations them and if they have any advice for people who would like to start up their own ethical business. We are always looking for more new ways to spread the love, and can’t wait to get started with this project! If you would like to nominate a business, just drop us a line by email, on twitter or on facebook.

Zogoflex Huck – spoiling our doggies.

Having rescued two dogs from Bleakholt Animal Sancturary recently, we are having a ton of fun spoiling them! Here is when they got their first Zogoflex Huck toy – the toughest ball in town (and we all love to have a ball!) I recon a being a doggy in a petshop must be prettey awesome!!

Love to all



What is Zogoflex?

Zogoflex is an amazingly tough material used to make dog toys: it’s non-toxic, buoyant, dishwasher safe and recyclable. The toys themselves are also well designed; for example, the Zisc Frisbee is a little softer than average and so kinder to those fragile bottom teeth, or the Twiz can be thrown, tugged, twisted AND filled with treats (Perfect for Yarrah Duos); enrichment all round!

Which Zogoflex toys do you sell?

We sell the following Zogoflex toys





From left for right: Zisk, Hurley, Twiz and Huck (Hucks are available in two sizes).

So, how tough is tough?

Tough enough for a one-time replacement guarantee! Tough enough that less than 1% get returned them for replacement! Of course, they are not totally indestructible; there really is no such thing as an indestructible dog toy – extreme chewers, for example Staffies, will get through any toy eventually. However, it will take time take a long time to destroy a Zogoflex toy – and then, the old one will be recycled and a new one sent out! These toys are certainly the way to go for destructive dogs, and are also ideal for sanctuaries, breeders and kennels, because even with several dogs chewing and tugging on them every day, they still last for months. Here is an example of the Zisk at work: Zisk is designed to be the toughest “interactive” toy – it’s great for tugging and pulling (but it’s not as strong as Huck and Hurley).

Are Zogoflex toys made ethically?

Yes, the toys are all made “in-house” by West Paw Design in Bozeman, Montana – as is the Zogoflex material itself. It’s fab to find a supply chain so transparent: you know who makes them and where, and under which employments laws. It’s really great! West Paw take great care to be eco too; for example, when their workshop needed expanding, they re-used all of the original outside walls – an unusual building method which saved 175 Tons of concrete form being dumped in landfill. The manufacturing process is also very efficient, producing very little waste. Great! Oh and we forgot to mention: all of the packaging is printed on 100% recycled paper with soya based inks.

But they are imported from America?

Yes – Companies like West Paw and products like Zogoflex are sadly hard to come by. However, the import process is pretty good – they are shipped by boat from America to Rotterdam, then they are moved from Rotterdam to our wholesaler by road – then by courier to us (plus they always arrive in a recycled box!) Of course, we would love to stock a British made equivalent! Let us know if you see any likely candidates!

Any other questions?

Fire away! We got answers by the bucket load! 🙂