When it comes to the environment Green Pop says “Don’t get anxious, get active.”
Green Pop started out with Misha Teasdale and Jeremy Loops who decided that planting trees would be their way of making up for the carbon emissions they contributed to the air when travelling from South Africa to London. Their initial mission was to plant 1000 (yes, 1000!) trees all around Cape Town in one month. They rallied people from the public to join them in their mission, which came to be a successful one. They managed to get people excited and active for the environment and thought: “Well, that worked out pretty fantastic, why not go all the way and register as an organisation?” Since 2010, Green Pop has been an official green organisation which has made looking after and actively caring for the environment a fun and creative thing to do. The founders were Misha Teasdale, Lauren O’Donnell and Jeremy Loops.
The organisation has also most likely turned looking after the environment into a lifestyle for the thousands of people who have been in involved in Green Pop’s activities. It is managed by young people with the oldest working board member only being 35 years old. The organisation definitely has a creative fresh spunk to it making all their activities fun.Today, their programs are run throughout Southern Africa.
Farrah joined the team not too long after its inception and is now the Urban Greening Project manager (one of the projects Green Pop runs.) The Urban Greening project goes out to schools who do not have gardens or greenery and gets the schools children involved in planting trees on their school grounds, creating lovely gardens on these properties. They also plant food gardens where organic vegetables flourish. One of the schools which Green Pop works with, Garlandale Primary School, located in Athlone won a Woolworths award with Eco-schools as they not only look after their trees well, but they also have a growing food garden which feeds their school. Food security can be stimulated through this.
Green Pop tries to incorporate edible, what Farrah refers to as “ancestral,” indigenous plants into these food garden as a way to reintroduce these plants and at the same time they reincorporate the local flora and fauna along with traditional tomatoes, spinach, and lettuce. Farrah informed me that these ancestral edible plants such as figs, kei apples and num-nums are excellent for areas such as the Cape Flats because unlike other fruit groups such as the citrus, the indigenous fruits are able to flourish in the sandy soils. Many of the trees and plant species which Green Pop plants is meant to be water wise so that it does not contribute to water shortages.
Below are four images of the indigenous fruits mentioned above. The first is an image of a Kei apple tree, the next two are images of num-nums and the last is an image of figs.
A sense of responsibility towards the environment is something which Farrah feels should come naturally to many. We should all have an appreciation for the environment which generously provides us with the food we need on a daily basis – this is where her sense of responsibility and love for the environment came from. Farrah says that Green Pop considers itself as a “middle-man” between people and the environment, because it aims to steer people into the direction of realising that they have a responsibility towards the environment and does this through getting people to join them in planting trees, growing food gardens, recycling, up-cycling with art and educating the people who participate in their programs. “What started as a tree planting organisation is beginning to morph,” says Farrah, as you can tell, Green Pop has included education on sustainability in their focus alongside the importance of planting trees.
Green Pop also runs small satellite programs with a small groups of people in South Africa as well as in Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. They also run reforestation programs in Hermanus and Hogsback which is located in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Coming back to Cape Town Green Pop has turned a nursery in Woodstock into an Eco-education hub which holds many environmental workshops. One of the festivals which Green Pop holds in Zambia includes up-cycling to create artistic ornaments as well as functional ornaments, Farrah mentioned a dustbin as an example. At this festival participants also create eco-bricks. Eco-bricks are plastic bottles stuffed solid with non-biological waste to create reusable building block. They are used to make modular furniture, garden spaces and full scale buildings such as schools and houses. They are a zero-cost solid waste solution for individuals, households, schools and communities and are an exciting way to take action towards envisioning a healthier way of living with our environment.
The education Green Pop provides is meant to make people more aware of indigenous plant life, insect life, bird life, animal life and water usage, which is attracted by creating green spaces. The indirect influences helps and improves large number of people and spaces where Green Pop is involved. It has evolved through massive public participation and has since 2010 planted 79,559 trees to date. Those trees provide daily benefits to 350,000 people in 3 countries. Looking forward Farrah say that Green Pop hopes to continue catalysing green change, and ultimately have a team of green active citizens who are inspired by themselves and each other.
There are many ways to get contribute to the environment through Green Pop. You may participate in the festivals, activities and projects and to visit the eco-education hub anytime during the week (8am-5pm) in Woodstock. A donation towards Green Pop can be done through their website, and you can also buy a tree as a gift. Next week Saturday will be the launch of Green Pop’s Canopy Club which is a chance for monthly donors to register to donate as little or as much as you like.