MINNEAPOLIS - What do you get when you mix baking soda, olive oil, and borax, with a little white wine on the side?
A green cleaning party.
Dubbed the 21st-century equivalent of a Tupperware party by Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE), an environmental and health organization, the parties are a way to gather and create green, safe, and cheap cleaning products.
The notion resonated with six women who met recently in south Minneapolis to combine food, drink, and camaraderie with a commitment to green cleaning.
"I should really do this," Rose Wettstein said. "When I was pregnant with my daughter, I wondered, should I be using this around her, around the house? What exactly is in the things I'm using?"
Party host and organizer Hilary Cheeley supplied some answers. Store-bought cleaners, including many of those with "green" on the label, don't list all of their ingredients, and they aren't required to, she said. They can contain "bleach, which has dioxin and is a carcinogen, phthalates, which are hormone disrupters, and triclosan, which is like a pesticide," she said.
"Vinegar does this just fine," she added. "The cleaners work."
After plunking down $10 for supplies, the women gathered around a newspaper-covered dining room table with giant jugs of vinegar, boxes of borax, baking soda, Mason jars, and more. Working in pairs, they measured and poured their way through four recipes provided by WVE.
The women chatted and laughed as they put together cleaners that included a furniture polish made from olive oil, vinegar and lemon oil - "like you can put on a salad," one joked.
They shared tips on natural ways to deal with diaper rash and keeping deer out of the garden. The phrase "pioneer women" came up several times.
In short order, the jars and bottles were filled, labeled and lined up to be taken home after the luncheon.
Cheeley reminded them that what's less harmful for the environment and people also is good for the pocketbook. The homemade laundry detergent costs 13 cents per load, instead of 48 cents from the store, she said. The all-purpose cleaner is 38 cents a bottle, compared with $4 to $8 a bottle at the store, she said.
"What are we going to do with all the money we save?" said Gena Doyscher.