Skip to main content
Clean Our
2021 Finalist

Vinisha Umashankar

Area of Impact:
Nominated by:

Vinisha Umashankar’s solar-powered ironing cart is a clean alternative to the charcoal powered street irons that press clothes for millions of Indians each day.

Their Story

Aged just 14, Vinisha Umashankar of Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, proves you are never too young to help the environment through innovation. 

One day, on the way home from school, Vinisha saw an ironing vendor dumping charcoal in the garbage. Curious, she began researching the impact of charcoal. She saw how smoke causes lung disease among vendors. And she was shocked to learn of the connection between charcoal and deforestation — each year industrial quantities of trees are felled to make charcoal.      

Vinisha’s solar powered cart replaces dirty charcoal with clean energy from the sun. Five hours of sunshine powers the iron for six hours – a win for the environment is also a win for vendors. 

Extra mobility means they can sell on doorsteps as well as the roadside. Built in phone top up and charging points bring extra income too. Overall, the ironing cart helps 13 of the 15 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Passionate about innovation, Vinisha traces her love of science to the encyclopaedia she received on her fifth birthday. It instilled a fascination about how things work – one that intensified as she realised the power of invention to do good.    

Vinisha plans to manufacture the solar ironing cart in India and sell it at an affordable price. She wants to export it to Asia, Africa and wherever the sun shines throughout the year. Vinisha’s example shows that by innovating today, the next generation can create a cleaner tomorrow.    

Vinisha has used The Earthshot Prize platform to send a clear message to world leaders that young innovators are on a mission to create a regenerative planet. Her address to world leaders at COP26 went viral and resulted in over 5,000 articles across 6 continents and 93 global markets. 

She went on to win the Youngsters Award at Nico Rosberg’s Greentech Festival, represented India as a baton-bearer for the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay, and spoke at the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative’s World Summit.

2024 Impact Report cover download box

Read the 2024 Impact Report

Download our 2024 Impact Report and dive into the details of what our global community has achieved to date.

Other 2021 Clean Our Air Finalists

The Earthshot Prize