Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Green Broom Brigade
Lompoc, CA

Congratulations to Winter 2014
People & Planet Award winner Green Broom Brigade!

“A green home cleaning service was a job creation idea of a church here in Lompoc,” says Diana Samaguey, a native of Mexico City. “Last April they turned Green Broom Brigade Natural Cleaning Co-op over to five of us workers. We have decided that it will definitely remain green.”

“Our small town did not have this type business,” says Raquel Gonzalez, one of the founders. “We had heard of other house cleaners and commercial cleaner workersthat had been suffering the consequences of using harsh, pollutant chemicals in their jobs-- skin cancer and lung cancer. Why not create a GREEN cleaning benefit safe for the worker-owners and their clients?”

In fact the town has a history of workplace lung disease, especially silicosis found among miners. In the cleaning business indoor air pollution places children and pets most at risk. A European study of commercial cleaning products, some of them suspected carcinogens, found vastly increased indoor air concentrations of up to 8-52 times normal for chloroform and a staggering 1-1170 times normal for carbon tetrachloride.

Green Broom’s five female worker/owners sport magnetic signs (color green) on their cars and bikes, two of them have purchased homes thanks to their increased family income, and best of all, they have learned how to operate their own business. GBBC is a cooperative. The worker/owners make business decisions around the table at its little office.

Among their first decisions was whether to stick with the recipe recommended by a consultant for the vinegar-based cleaning liquid they brew daily. They shop around for different green products to add to the stew, but they have never opted for high-profile toxics.

Diana Samaguey, the GBBC leader in hours worked, says, “To work green is not a passing fad; it’s a way of life that we want to practice for our own health and so future generations have a better quality of life.”

Carmen Guzman, who purchased her first home in December, says “I have three kids with asthma. I always used vinegar to clean around them. I knew it was better a long time ago.”

Monica Farias -- “Our cleaning liquid does not smell bad or bother my nose or hands. I’ve had irritation in my nose with toxics but with these products I have not had anything like that. And it’s good for the environment.”

Voting
Green Broom Brigade is a democratically controlled business making decisions together around the table.

Esther Ferruzca, now back to work after her granddaughter’s heart surgery--- “It’s better for our health. Toxics produce lung and breast cancer. Organics are the best products for women to work with.”

Olivia Perez, the youngest of the group—“The burning in your eyes when you’re dealing with bleach, it’s good to get away from that. Once, at another place I worked, I had a sinus infection and I had to clean a urinal with ammonia. I had to walk out.”

“Thank you Green America for finding us,” smiles Diana. ”The $5,000 would allow us to expand our services into commercial accounts which will let us try our cleaning recipe on carpet and tile!”


Members
Members of the Green Broom Brigade cooperative.
Straw
Straw
Diana Samaguey and her family: first-time home buyers! Esther and Diana, members of the Green Broom Brigade.
End Office
End-of-day work. Diana in the business office.  Members learn every aspect of the business.