Due to low rainfall and high temperatures, water levels in Cape Town are frightfully low. We have reached Level Three Water Restrictions as a means to ensure that minimal water is wasted in this time of dire need. However, due to continued low rainfall and failure to reach the intended water-saving target, water restrictions will be pushed up to Level 3B as of the 1st of February.

On this note, GSI (Green Schools Initiative) and HCA (History and Current Affairs Society) collaborated in hosting a speaker from Green Pop to address this issue and to discuss both water scarcity and the Green Pop Project with the Westerford pupils.

In 2010, after a business trip of 360 000 air miles, Misha Teasdale decided that he had to counterpoise his Carbon Footprint and so collaborated with friends and family, setting a goal to plant 1000 trees in the rural areas of Cape Town by the end of that month. That is how the Greenpop project began.

Greenpop brings together communities and works at re-planting the forests which are so rapidly being torn down around the world. Planting trees in rural areas and schools, Greenpop works at counteracting our Carbon Footprint every day, reviving the lungs of the Earth.

They have created several effective grey-water watering systems for maintaining the trees which do not have regulated care, as well as other methods of using water in the most economical way possible.

The seventh Platbos reforestation project will take place in March. It is a weekend event aimed at restoring one of the most rare and endangered ecosystems in the Western Cape, situated only two-and-a-half hours outside of Cape Town! Greenpop also hosts the annual June/July Zambia Festival of Action which is an opportunity for people around the globe to come together to learn about permaculture, to work at further developing the communities and to replant our indigenous forests.

Lauren O’Donnell discussed with the pupils of Westerford different ways in which to conserve water, not only as individuals but also as a community.  If we were all to adhere fully to the water restrictions - each of us saving several extra litres every day, by doing the small things -  it will all add up and make a difference; we’ve reached a point where every drop of water needs to count.

Here are a few tips to help save water :  
• Flush less: put bricks in the cistern of your toilet to take up water-space so that when you flush, the water usage is minimal.
• Use an eco-friendly shower-head.  Put a bucket in the shower to catch water while you wait for it to warm up; use this to water the garden. Switch the shower off when you soap yourself and only use water to rinse the soap off!
• Collect grey-water from household chores; make sure that as much water as possible gets a second usage. Piping from the bath and shower can be diverted to run straight into one’s garden.
• Collect water when it rains! Use this for washing up instead of using potable tap water.

One must not only be conscious of the small things, but aware, too, of the large industries which use hundreds of gallons of water for production. A beef burger takes approximately 100 gallons to be produced, excluding drinking water for the cows. Cut down on your meat intake, or cut it out of your diet completely. Stop using disposable one-use plastic. It is in these ways that we can start to really conserve our water before it is too late.

Lauren explained how the Greenpop name came about. POP: People, Ourselves and the Planet. First one has to look after the people around us and the planet which we live on, in order to look after ourselves.
Thank you, Lauren, and the Greenpop team for sharing your story with the pupils at Westerford.

Hanna Lehtinen, Grade 12