Creativity in action with Greenpop in Zambia

This is the third post in a three-part feature about the Greenpop Zambia Festival of Action, by Matthew Koehorst (read the introduction | read about the community planting days & environmental education)

Natural Building:

Zambia has a long history of building with natural materials. Wattle and daub houses, for example, have been the culturally preferred way of building for generations. With rapid urbanisation and development however, some of these skills are being lost. During the Festival of Action, Greenpop focuses on producing as close to 0% waste as possible. Much of the waste is diverted to projects that use it for various creative purposes since Livingstone has no recycling facilities. However, soft plastics are difficult to find a home for- enter the ‘eco-brick’- eco-bricks are empty bottles that have been stuffed full of non-recyclable plastics. They have great insulation and structural characteristics and are used for a variety of building projects during the Festival. In 2016, the bottles were used to create a bench at the local hospital for mother’s to use while waiting for the children to be attended to.

In addition to building using eco bricks, the Festival of Action also hosted a series of workshops at a local NGO that culminated in the construction of a large cob oven for baking breads and pizzas.
An eco-brick hangs suspended from a tree with an environmental wish from a high school learner written on it, waiting to be interned in a natural building project
Carrie facilitates a cob oven building workshop with members of a local urban farming project

Mural Art:

Creativity and self-expression have formed a large part of the Festival of Action since the beginning. Each year a mural artist joins the project and workshops environmentally based creative expressions with school learners. The end result of this is a mural in the artist’s style but with input and a lot of hard work from young Zambians. This year, Maria-Theresa Bauer, a German fine-artist, joined the program and facilitated five beautiful murals . Four of the murals were done in schools and the fifth was painted on a public wall on the main road for all to enjoy.
Colour and lines being added to this large Africa themed mural at Linda Farm School in Livingstone
This mural celebrates water and nature, painted on the walls of Mwandi Community School’s water pump


This year, Greenpop successfully began the process of actualising a long held dream to work with local crafters in creating sustainable alternatives to wooden curios that are sold at the local curio markets. Heath Nash, an acclaimed conceptual designer and artist from South Africa, joined the program and spent 3 weeks working with a small group of crafters represented by the local Curio Association in brainstorming and developing an alternative product range to the traditional wooden curios that are often made from rare or endangered woods. Participants in the Festival of Action also had the opportunity to attend workshops on upcycling and learnt a range of skills and ideas from the proper way to use pliers to the different types of plastics and what they can be used for. Although this was just the beginning of a long process, the end results were rewarding and promising for the potential future of a sustainable craft industry in Livingstone.
Heath Nash and the team demonstrating some of their upcycled project ideas
Colour in plastics, brought to life in simple upcycled flowers

Photos by Lee-Ann Olwage

About Matthew Koehorst

Matthew Koehorst is a human doing passionate about reconnecting people with nature through education, experimentation and sharing of information. His project Six Kingdoms focuses on understanding how we can improve our relationship with earth through practical projects and learning experiences. For more on his work visit his instagram account @six_kingdoms or contact him at