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Culture, Reality

Green Goes Pop

by Alana Cremonte / 18.10.2010

Global warming and its apocalyptic shadow – climate change – warrant mass mobilization. Sadly our hamster wheels are on cruise control. Yes Woolworths stocks (a gouging overpriced range of) Green cleaning products – but we’re, ah, still not doing enough to save our planet. Or pressuring the usual suspects (government, corporate capital) to take environmental transformation as seriously as the pursuit of profit and power.

Enter Greenpop – an outreach eco organization making it easy for us to do our part. Their message is simple: donate R50 bucks and they plant a tree. Done. And seeing as trees are basically the lungs of our ailing planet, they make a good point.

If you haven’t bumped into this band of merry volunteers yet, you probably don’t live in Cape Town. They stage informal “sit-ins” on fake grass they can drop anywhere in the city and do free jams with bongos and guitars to “raise consciousness” and enlist support. It sounds way more “hippie dippy” than it actually is. The music is inventive and fun. They’re about positive re-enforcement and local collective solutions to environmental issues rather than name-calling doom and gloom. When it comes to volunteering, you don’t necessarily need to do hard labor. Everyone does what they can – from the car guard that sings French chansons to the guy from Joburg who donated an amazing animated Greenpop advert.


It all started when Greenpop founder, Misha Teasdale, wanted to plant 1000 trees in a month to offset his own carbon footprint. With an ever-growing army doing plantings all over these days and major donations, Misha’s little Greenpop venture is well on its way to changing the Cape landscape for the better. Hey maybe one day it’ll look as good as it did when that covetous shit Van Riebeck first landed!

Greenpop is a tangible suggestion of what will soon be a global necessity – inspired community projects driven by environmental concern and goodwill. Often happening in civil spaces outside indifferent state structures. It is happening in cities across the globe. The urban farming movement. Community gardens. A return to subsistence practices in renovated urban spaces. People are waking up to the urgency of reformulating everyday life from extractive and harmful mass behavior to patterns more conducive to sustainability. Re-thinking cities means downplaying the centrality of carbon hungry pastimes from driving cars to burning coal for power.


This movement is focused on saving the environment but central to that is uplifting communities. There is no environmental change without social transformation. Greenpop has, in the past 6 weeks of its life, planted 1233 trees in areas that seriously needed greening. They’ve chosen fruit-bearing, wind-resistant trees like the Brachylaena Discolor and Ekebergia that are great for the loose, sandy soil of the Cape Flats and townships of the Western Cape. With care and maintenance, tending to the new trees, can you imagine what these suburbs will look like in a couple of years?

There’s a Bad Religion song that goes: “The next time I create the universe, I’ll make sure you participate!” Now that could well be a bitchy aside in a love gone sour, but it’s still pretty relevant. So keep a look out for those bongo Greenpop fake grass sit-ins – and get involved. The planet, you know, needs you. And you need it. Where else are you going to live?


*All images © Alana Cremonte.

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  1. Lizzy says:

    this initiative comes from a good place, but the article really feels like advertising. and planting trees may be an awesome way to positively change the landscape, but it really isnt saving the planet.

    i think an interview with Misha Teasdale may have been a bit more informative.
    (still more kiff than kak, though)

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  2. that girl says:

    went out ot a tree planting with Mirsha and Lauren and some volunteers the other day. This is a really good initiative and its very easy, if you cant afford to donate a tree (highly unlikely) you can go out and plant one, get free sandwitches and as one guy said, “It is certainly better than sitting at home watching TV or something.”

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  3. Sigh says:

    Personally, I think Cape Town has far more pressing issues than that it’s not green enough… but I guess it makes these people feel good and they enjoy the free sandwiches and attention, so…

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  4. shan says:

    With absolutely anything that is in some way a positive contribution to ANYTHING deserves no negative comment!There is no such thing as “too big” or “too small” .
    I think this initiative is awesome, and whether its a selfless act or an ego driven act I still think its awesome. Alana I really enjoyed your writing, you always seem to captivate your readers with your very definate style. I look forward to reading more from you.

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  5. Sigh says:

    These are the guys behind the Doodling, I believe. They could have used their influence to deal with more pressing issues… so many people in this country don’t have enough to eat; they can’t eat trees!

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  6. Zoe says:

    Good work. Yes I agree, lets give Greenpop its dues. It is all too easy to say this isn’t doing enough, people cant eat trees, trees don’t prevent the inequalities or injustices of this world. I do not wish to diminish the tree planting penonomenon…

    BUT it is reactive and I am not sure I promote off-setting. Tangible change with any reaosnable longevity must be preventative. Planting a tree is great, planting 1000 is amazing but without changing our lifestyles and reducing the contributing factors that have these guys rolling up their sleeves and wiggling ther green fingers in the first place, we will soon run out of land for trees, and the demand for tree planting in order to off-set our ever increasing carbon emissions will never be able to be met….so…erm…what then?

    I don’t really see the tree planting initiative as a panacea in itself but it is helping to raise awareness and for that I applaude it. But any preventative measures???

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  7. mike Miller (USA) says:

    What a cool idea. Wish we could get inspired groups like this over here in the USA too.

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  8. greenie says:

    This is a great initiative. Rather than saying that every ounce of public effort and outreach has to go to the important things (which they are) of feeding, clothing, educating etc, lets give credit to those who put their energy into something immensely positive. These guys choose to give their time and endless energy to something with long-reaching positive effects for an entire community, city and maybe even country. Thanks from me personally and keep running with it.

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  9. Sigh says:

    Mike, the USA is a big place. Can you really say there isn’t a single similar organisation anywhere in the entire country??

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  10. mike Miller (USA) says:

    I know we have lots of similar groups over here, my thought was to give encouragement to you guys to continue, not to boast about how great we are (our politicians do enough of this!).

    Thanks for kicking my butt on this. I’ll improve on my words of encouragement in the future.

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  11. Jess says:

    @ Sigh,
    If you can’t breathe, you’re not going to be worries so much about not having anything to eat.

    I agree with what Shan said: With absolutely anything that is in some way a positive contribution to ANYTHING deserves no negative comment!

    Everything is connected – so whether you are planting a tree or buying a loaf of bread for someone else – it’s SOMETHING.

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  12. Greenpop says:

    Hi everyone

    Thank you for all your positive and critical comments. We really do take them to heart and want to learn from as many people as possible and improve as we go.
    Our focus started with planting trees in under-greened schools and hoping to provide some education about trees, nature and environmental issues through the practical experience of planting. We started in the beginning of September, and since then have learnt a lot. One of the most valuable experiences for everyone involved has been the relationships that have been created between people from different communities and backgrounds. Schools have proved to be amazing places where people can come together (not only students and teachers).
    Our focus from here:
    The support the campaign has received has been more than we could have imagined, and we are moving forward with various partners and interesting ideas. We will still plant trees as we feel that this is an important issue, not only for the environment but also for social upliftment. We will soon be planting fruit trees as well, as we agree that food is a serious issue. The plan is to offer vegetable gardens soon too.
    UNIMA South Africa have partnered with us to help us with education which is a critical component of what we believe in and we are excited about their ideas to help.
    Lots is happening and we are branching out. If you have any ideas, suggestions or know anyone who could add value, please send me a mail: lauren@greenpop.org

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