>> Wendy Tremayne ( gaiatreehouse.com) is renovating an RV park into a
100% reuse, off-grid B&B in Truth or Consequences, N.M. Another project,
Swap-O-Rama-Rama ( swaporamarama.org), is a clothing swap and DIY
workshop designed to offer people an alternative to consumerism.
A Party Clean Enough for Gaia
The Purple Fig makes green cleaning accessible for all.
P arties begin and end with cleaning. Many
event producers agree that guests keep a
clean space clean and make a messy space dirty
because they follow the intention they feel in the
room when they arrive.
But I recently learned from Amanda May, owner of
The Purple Fig Cleaning Company, that some parties
begin, end, and are entirely about cleaning. The
Purple Fig, located in Austin, Texas, offers chemical-free cleaning services, a line of natural cleaning
products, and DIY parties that educate, empower,
May is anxious to point out that simple ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda will solve
most household cleaning needs. With the addition
of essential oils such as tea tree oil, anyone can
make a plethora of products that are safe for people
and the planet.
The Purple Fig offers more than products and
services — they offer education about plants that
clean the air, information about the off-gassing of
common products, and natural suggestions for
scouring, polishing, and sparkling.
A recent DIY party May hosted opened with
biology student Corrina Kalish talking about the
harmful effects of chemical cleaners.
After Kalish’s presentation, guests engaged in
the making of a peppermint glass cleaner and an
oregano-mint countertop spray, ate and drank, and
had fun together. Host and guests alike received gifts
such as cleaning products and air-cleansing plants.
Missy LaMunyon, a Purple Fig employee and event
organizer, says, “I like knowing that if a toddler licks
an oregano-mint countertop spray it won’t hurt them
like bleach would.”
She adds that she enjoys the parties because
she has friends who are working on environmental
issues and she wants them to be healthy so they can
do their work in the world.
May’s commitment to educating the public
through seminars and DIY parties is in line with the
ethic of a growing community of small business
owners who opt to share knowledge rather than
hoard it. Her perspective is that quality of life
includes life itself, and not just her own life.
When I ask May if she is concerned that
giving away information might turn would-be
customers into makers of their own products,
she says, “I count karmic points.”
Speaking about the challenges inherent in her
work, May notes, “Most people know that they
should use natural products to clean, but they are
not sure how to use them. They’re also not entirely
convinced that the products will work.”
She knows that she’s also helping people get
off big brands: “I am teaching people to outsource
one less aspect of their life to multinational
Her ethic includes a return to “power to the
people.” May believes that small companies like The
Purple Fig can outshine the multinationals because
people have a renewed interest in craftsmen and
seek trust in the relationship between consumer
May’s future plans include serious testing of
her products. She’s getting out the microscope so
she can provide scientific data to support the
effectiveness of natural cleansers.
She’s also preparing a class for fourth-graders.
Do you ever wonder what happened to home economics? May knows that change often comes
from the kids.
“Imagine if kids brought home an all-purpose
cleaner that they made in class,” she says, “and then
started looking on the back of the cleaning products
at their house and asking their parents why they
have these things.”