Must watch organisation: Greenpop

Digital editor Carina Claassens chats to Greenpop about who they are and what they do

Planting trees

What exactly is Greenpop?

Greenpop is a South African social enterprise on a mission to (re)connect people with our planet – and have fun doing it. Greenpop was founded in 2010 and has since planted over 48 000 trees at schools and other urban sites, as well as forests across SA and Zambia. They plant trees through urban greening and reforestation projects, spread environmental awareness, and make greening accessible and “popular” through green festivals and workshops.

Who started Greenpop and why?

In 2010, Misha Teasdale was traveling around the world doing a media job with his friend Rowan Pybus. They racked up a lot of carbon emissions – about 360 000 air miles worth – and wanted to do something real about it, something big.

At a dinner party shortly afterwards, the idea was fleshed out and in September 2010, Misha and his friends set themselves the challenge of planting 1 000 trees in one month. They succeeded; the phone wouldn’t stop ringing and the idea that this could work as a social enterprise began to form – individuals and companies wanted to get involved in tree-planting and these youngsters knew they could make that happen.

A short while later, Misha Teasdale, Lauren O’Donnell and Jeremy Hewitt (a.k.a. Jeremy Loops) officially founded Greenpop, on the basis that with passion and horsepower, anything is possible.

Describe some of the projects.

The Cape Town Urban Greening Programme is about greening under-greened communities, and exchanging tree-care knowledge and techniques to enhance education about the environment. Urban Greening plant days allow for a unique connection between people from all walks of life – encouraging team-building or corporate social responsibility.

Greenpop also hosts annual Reforestation Festivals at Platbos Forest. There is a Family Fest and a Friends’ Fest, where Greenpop invites anyone to join them and plant trees, listen to awesome live music and (re)connect with each other and the planet through forest hikes, morning yoga, visits to a 1 000-year-old Milkwood and presentations by experts on a variety of environmental conservation topics. So far, through the Reforest Fests, over 18 000 trees have been planted at Platbos Forest. This year the Family Fest will be held 8 –10 May and the Friends’ Fest 15 – 17 May.Family fest banner

Then there’s Zambia Festival of Action – the only one of Greenpop’s projects that takes place outside of South Africa. Since Zambia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, Greenpop started an ongoing tree planting and eco-education project around Livingstone in partnership with environmental activist (and Greenpop director of trees in Zambia) Benjamin Mibenge. Through this project, Greenpop aims to raise awareness about the area and be part of the solution. The Zambia Festival of Action happens annually to boost this ongoing project and encourage even more people to branch out and be the change. The event runs over three weeks, with the first week a focused high-school groups’ week. This is followed by two general weeks where all ages are welcome. This conference-style festival sees thousands of trees planted, workshops on making your own solar-cooker from scratch, painting wall murals at schools, helping to nurture a food forest and working closely with the local communities to create a culture of tree-planting in the face of deforestation practices. Right in the middle of it all Greenpop hosts Earth Fest (Livingstone Guest Farm – Victoria Falls, Zambia) a celebration of African music, heart and soil. The Zambia Festival of Action is one epic, life-changing experience.

How can the public get involved?

There is a multitude of ways to join the Treevolution! Join us at one of the events mentioned above or get your hands dirty at one of the open plant days in Cape Town. If you’re not on the ground, there are many reasons to gift a tree to a loved one, as a corporate gift or as a company pledge or individual sponsorship (you can gift trees HERE)

Opportunities to volunteer or intern at Greenpop allow for truly empowering work, in any field from communications and politics to ecology and finance. The Greenpop office is a place where original ideas are welcome and dedication and passion is coupled with a fun, relaxed company culture.