Greenpop chat to me about their festival, carbon offsetting and the awesomeness of vegetarian food...
Greenpop have run many great projects, including Trees for Zambia
Greenpop just hosted its second ever Reforestation Festival this past weekend, where participants plant indigenous trees to help restore the ancient Platbos forest. Around 250 people from the ages of 5 to 65 years joined them in their 'Treevolution'.
Trees contribute hugely to the environmental balance - by creating oxygen, stabilising the soil and encouraging biodiversity among other things - and considering the rapid rate of deforestation worldwide, this kind of event could not have come at a more crucial time. I chat to Lauren O' Donnell, one of the directors of the Greenpop organisation:
In what ways does Greenpop help raise environmental awareness?
'We run events, hold training days for ground staff and teachers of our schools and use social media. But we mainly try to raise awareness by doing... and getting people to join us!'
How did you go about creating such a great brand?
'We just started doing cool green things and telling people about it - it's amazing the power of word of mouth. We at Greenpop are ambitious; we want to make the work that we do come across as professional, yet fun and cool at the same time.'
What kind of response have you received from the local public?
'It's been absolutely amazing to see that people really want to get involved in improving the environment and our country. We've realized that and are striving to make it easy and appealing to do so.'
How will this year’s event differ from the last one?
'This year we have double the number of people and so have planted more trees. We had more bands too and some extra fun activities so it's really festive.'
Check out Greenpops reverse graffiti at UCT and Kloof Street
Do you believe events like these could inspire a green, conscious movement?
'We believe that if people go home inspired and happy they will take some of the new knowledge and share it with their friends and family... and in that way we hope to inspire a movement! It's really important for us to be creating and hosting events that have a long-term effect.'
Why did you choose to serve only vegetarian food?
'We believe that the world needs to consume less and more responsibly - being conscious of the amount and type of meat we eat is part of this.
Plus, vegetarian food is just delicious!'
What are the main factors that have caused the deforestation in the Platbos forests?
'The main reason trees were originally cleared in Platbos was agriculture and cultivation. But then alien vegetation took over which poses a fire threat to the small indigenous forest still left there. The Trees for Tomorrow programme at Platbos -run by Francois and Melissa Krige- addresses this continually through forest protection and planting. Greenpop now run an annual festival where we do a mass planting just before the rains come.'
What kind of trees did you plant?
'A whole range of beauties that are endemic to the forest. Francois and Melissa harvest seeds from the ancient trees and have a huge nursery. So all the trees are born in that forest and will adapt to that environment perfectly.'
How will these trees be maintained after they have been planted?
'This is proper reforestation and so is quite different to urban tree planting in that it requires less maintenance. Trees are planted closer together, are smaller and adapt quickly to the forest ecology. Also, the bigger trees in the forest nurture the new ones and a thicket develops.'
This years Reforest Fest is sold out!
What are the potential issues around Carbon Offsetting?
'Some companies are starting to plant trees as part of their corporate mandate, which can be great as it helps to improve the planet and people's lives. But the problem comes in when companies are planting trees as a way to validate other harmful activities they are involved in, for example, continuing to use resources at an alarming rate. Although some actions are unavoidable when living in cities and in modern society, being conscious of one's actions is really important and there is a difference between planting trees to give back and planting trees to cover up your harmful actions - companies need to be very aware of this.'
What about the other toxins that are released through air pollution? Can these be offset?
'We can't go around carbon offsetting everything - instead we need to be conscious of the effects of our actions, reduce consumption and change lifestyles. It's going to be a long road to get to a place where everyone understands all of this, but also a fun one full of interesting learning and innovation!'
Have you seen the ripple effects of Greenpop’s work on the people of this city yet?
'It's difficult to assess that objectively, but the amazing responses we get from Capetonians and the people we meet in and around Cape Town is inspiring. Much of it was happening before we started and we're always meeting real heroes. The work we are doing forms part of a large movement of awesome projects and initiatives around the world making waves. It all seems to be coming to the fore now and is helping make our team more motivated to create impactful projects.'
To see the super cool video of last year's event, click here