Imagine a world where green spaces and green living is popular and accessible to everyone. That is exactly what Greenpop envisions, and this Western Cape based non-profit organisation has started a “treevolution” to make it real.
In 2010, while globetrotting as a filmmaker, Greenpop founder Misha Teasdale (37) became so aware of his carbon footprint and its effect on the environment that it inspired him to live a green conscious life. He rallied a few friends and set out to plant 1 000 trees in a number of townships like Bonteheuwel, Khayelitsha and Delft on the Cape Flats.
“We went to 12 countries on four continents, flying about 360,000 km. For us, that seemed like a huge distance, especially when we tried to calculate the environmental impact of all those flights,” says Teasdale.
The once-off goal soon grew into a “Treevolution” and to date they’ve planted 111,903 indigenous and fruit trees, and two fynbos gardens; they’ve painted 17 nature-themed murals, built 60 beehives, planted six community forest gardens, and they’ve run 570 sustainable development workshops and hosted 32 environmental action festivals.
“One of the main outcomes of this project is to instil a love of nature and to inspire environmental stewardship amongst the students we work with,” says Carla Wessels, Greenpop’s Communications Manager.
“In the end it is not the number of trees we plant that matter, but the amount of hands that helped us.” – Carla Wessels
According to Wessels, their first campaign came together beautifully after the group raised funds and researched appropriate planting locations. They agreed to plant 1 000 trees in one month.
When the last tree was planted, the group went back to their day jobs, but they were inundated with calls from schools requesting trees, companies offering their support and volunteers willing to join their cause.
“Misha and his partner Lauren O’Donnell and their friend Jeremy Hewitt realised that there was an ongoing need for an organisation connecting people to the planet, each other and themselves and decided to focus all of their energy on making it a reality, ” Wessels says.
Almost ten years later, Greenpop has ongoing projects in the Eastern and Western Cape, with tree-planting projects running in Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. Through their Forest Restoration project, Wessels explains they aim to restore ecosystems in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Children as young as seven are involved in Greenpop’s school project Fynbos for the Future. They help the organisation to plant biodiverse fynbos gardens in Cape Town schools.
The initiative plans to continue educating children about the importance of tree planting and get them consciously involved in protecting the earth. Wessels says “in the end it is not the number of trees we plant that matter, but the amount of hands that helped us.”