After racking up a considerable number of air miles Misha Teasdale decided to offset his carbon footprint.
In September 2010 Teasdale decided to try planting 1000 trees in one month, and to get as many people as possible involved in his project; the team planted more than the targeted 1000 trees at various schools in the Cape Flats in the Western Cape.
The project’s success prompted Teasdale to turn his idea into something bigger. With the help of friends Lauren O’Donnell and Jeremy Hewitt he founded Greenpop.
Greenpop promotes planting trees and sustainable living by educating people about the importance and benefits of trees.
“I was a freelance writer and copy editor so I started at Greenpop doing PR [public relations] to try and attract attention to what we were doing,” says O’Donnell, director at Greenpop.
“At that point we were just a group of friends trying to plant 1000 trees in one month so that’s all I expected. I didn’t think it would gain so much traction and continue.”
ROOTS OF LIFE
“Humans are inherently connected to nature so as soon as people are reminded of this and of the fact that our planet is our one precious home, we are easily reconnected,” O’Donnell says.
“It’s human nature to know that trees are important, we just need to be reminded now and then.”
Trees and other forms of vegetation are primary producers in the food chain; they provide a major and indispensable form of food and help sustain life by absorbing carbon dioxide to produce oxygen.
Trees also prevent soil erosion; purify ground water by filtering out toxins; form wind barriers; and are a natural resource easily turned into useful goods.
They also beautify spaces and attract diverse animals.
“Green spaces make people happier, they increase pride of place, create shade and cool spaces down.
“They encourage biodiversity and so much more,” says O’Donnell.
Greenpop encourages people to plant indigenous vegetation as indigenous plants are more suited to South Africa’s dry climate and don’t use up scarce water resources.
Through its School Trees project the organisation plants fruit trees at schools, institutes and organisations around South Africa and Zambia and works with students to understand the importance of trees and how to care for plants.
Greenpop’s reforestation project is aimed especially at rural communities, where residents cut down trees for firewood. The organisation wants to encourage communities to plant more trees to replace the ones they cut down. Some plant species also help improve soil quality, helping rural communities grow better crops to feed their families.
During its annual Reforest Festival at the indigenous Platbos Forest in the Western Cape, Greenpop invites tree-lovers to participate in a two-day tree planting spree. Dates for the festival will soon be released.
During the organisation’s 2013 Reforest Festival some 5000 trees were planted.
PLAY YOUR PART
“Plant a tree, either in your own neighbourhood or gift a tree on our website and we will plant it on your behalf and send you a certificate with the GPS coordinates of where your tree is growing,” says O’Donnell.