On March 17, Earth.Org had a conversation with Vinisha Umashankar, a 15-year-old student, innovator and environmentalist from India, who developed a solar-powered ironing cart as a clean alternative to the charcoal powered street irons widely used in her home country. She was named the youngest finalist of The Earthshot Prize 2021, a prestigious award created by Prince William recognising groups and individuals developing solutions to solve global environmental issues and climate change, for her groundbreaking innovation. She even spoke at the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
In this fireside chat, we discussed her journey as a young innovator and inspirations behind her creations, how environmental issues disproportionately affect the less-privileged, and how the young people can take action in the fight against climate change.
Vinisha spoke with Earth.Org about several topics, including:
- The inspiration and process of developing her award-winning solar ironing cart. Vinisha saw the pollution generated by the charcoal ironing carts in her hometown and across India. Coupled with her love science, she decided to develop a simple yet effective solution and offered a sustainable alternative to the conventional ironing carts.
- The biggest impacts of climate change are highly visible in India. Despite India‘s net zero goal being 2o years behind most developed countries, it is ultimately a developing country. She believes the climate action currently taken is a positive sign.
- Her experience and insights at the recent COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow. Being named one of finalist at the Earthshot Prize provided Vinisha the unique platform to raise her voice and represent the younger generation at the global stage. She is keen to continue raising awareness on the impacts of climate change and getting more young people involved.
- Advice for aspiring inventors and creators. First identify the overarching issue, have patience and the confidence in your passion and work.
- How young people can take part in environmental issues and combat the climate crisis. It doesn’t have to be an invention like what Vinisha did; the smallest action from recycling to planting trees can culminate in bigger long-term changes.
- Her optimism and hopefulness for the younger generation, in solving climate change and achieving a sustainable future.
You can check out the full length video of Earth.Org ‘s conversation with Vinisha Umashankar below:
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