The mission of the Vida Verde Women's Cooperative is to suppor Brazilian housecleaners in their professions while creating community and promoting healthy and environmentally friendly methods.
We are a team of women trained on cleaning alternatives that do not harm the environment and protect ours and our clients’ health.
We are committed to protect the environment using non-toxic products and teaching other people how to use green cleaners, encouraging them to switch from toxic to green cleaning products.
We make our own cleaning products with natural ingredients and all products have labels listing the ingredients and providing instructions for use. The cleaning products made and employed by the Coop members have been rigorously examined by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Toxic Use Reduction Institute to ensure their safety and effectiveness.
In the last eight years Vida Verde has trained over 1,000 women and some men on the use of natural cleaning products, teaching these individuals about the dangers that chemical cleaning products pose to their health and to the environment.
Furthermore, the Coop has provided a structure where women housecleaners can become small business leaders and this has allowed them to become active in their communities.
Vida Verde Women's Cooperative began to exist when Tufts University’s professor David Gute, went to a meeting of the Somerville Immigrants Services Providers Group (ISPG), looking for ideas for a community participatory research project. That day and at that time the idea of a housecleaners women’s cooperative was born. Monica Chianelli, a Somerville resident who worked as a housecleaner and a Brazilian Women’s Group volunteer, spoke up about the need to create a women’s coop that addressed the heasecleaners’ health issues and the exploitation practiced by some schedule’s owners.
The Vida Verde Women's Cooperative is a project of the Brazilian Women's' Group (BWG), founded in 1995 by a group of women who hoped to "make a difference" in the wider Brazilian community, encouraging its members, particularly women, to stand up for their rights in the United States. The Mission of the organization is to promote political and cultural awareness, aiming at Brazilian immigrants' development and self-sufficiency.
TheVida Verde Women's Cooperative was launched in December of 2006 with the main purpose of organizing Brazilian immigrant housecleaners to combat the occupational and environmental dangers posed by traditional toxic cleaning materials and to alleviate the exploitation of workers. The Cooperative has become a community asset with a strong voice that raises awareness about the dangers of using toxic cleaning materials and about the need to create alternative products that protect personal health, the microenvironment of the client's home and the ambient environment. The cleaning products made and employed by the Coop members have been rigorously examined by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Toxic Use Reduction Institute to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Therefore, unlike most traditional cleaning agents, they pose no dangers to the health of our Coop housecleaners and to their clients.
Vida Verde is a worker owned, democratically run enterprise, which enables workers with limited English proficiency to earn a living wage (greater than $2,500 per month). Vida Verde has expanded economic opportunities for low-income Brazilian immigrants interested in working within the residential and commercial cleaning industry sector. The Cooperative is free from the usual power imbalances and exploitation that traditionally have occurred in this type of work. The viability of the business model is proven by the maturation of the Coop both in terms of the number of members (303 in October 2011) but also the number of houses cleaned by members (average of 10/week). Given its growth the Coop has successfully transitioned from a start-up to an on-going business entity. Overall, the Vida Verde Women's Cooperative has become a model to other groups and cooperatives in the United States and even overseas (2008 trip to Denmark). Vida Verde has also inspired several academic papers, through its partnership with Tufts University and UMass-Lowell.
The Vida Verde Women's Cooperative was originally funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in parternship with the ISPG/Health and Tufts University. Currently, Vida Verde is partially funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and its members.