Rutland Water Birdfair Takes One for the Climate, Climate Champ–Vinisha Umashankar, Indoor Hydroponic Gardening, Kenya’s Green House Sessions

by | Dec 10, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Rutland Water Birdfair takes one for the climate, plus climate champion, Vinisha Umashankar. We look at indoor hydroponic gardening, and Kenya’s Green House Sessions.



Here’s an inspiring story about a group who is making the ultimate sacrifice to stop doing what they love, in the name of saving the climate. The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust (LRWT) is canceling Birdfair, an internationally-renowned, three-day event held each August for the last 30 years at the Rutland Nature Reserve in Leicester, England.

In a statement made on the organization’s website, LWRT chairman Dr. Anthony Biddle, wrote: “LRWT’s focus now has to be on our new forward strategy ‘30 by 30’, which aims for 30% of land managed for wildlife by 2030.

We also need to be aware that the world has changed markedly over the past two years. One realization in particular is that a vastly disrupting event such as the global pandemic we are still experiencing may not be uncommon in future.

The current format of Birdfair is heavily influenced by travel and tourism. The carbon footprint generated both by the event itself and the activities it promotes does not now fit well with our own strategy towards tackling the climate crisis. On balance, we believe the risk to the site itself, and also to LRWT’s reputation should the site become damaged, outweigh the benefits of the event continuing at the Nature Reserve.

We have thought long and hard about all these concerns, and the decision has been an extremely difficult and sad one. But we knew that it was now time to make the future clear, in the interests of the event, and of everyone who is involved in it or supports it.

Why does the end of Birdfair matter to us? It’s a great example of a group of people understanding their contribution to climate change, and making a decision to adapt to reality as a way to lessen the impacts of climate change in the future.To paraphrase Dr. Biddle, our stewardship of the Nature Reserve—and in this case all of Nature– has to be taken seriously.




India is home to 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world, according to a report by IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company, and In 2019, 1.6 million deaths were attributed to its toxic air. 

Contributors to that air pollution include, “press wallahs,” Ironing vendors  who push their carts from neighborhood to neighborhood, offering their services. According to the Indian government’s science and technology department, there are an estimated 10 million ironing carts, each of them using about 11 pounds of charcoal daily. Imagine the amount of wood used! Talk about polluting the air and contributing to climate change!

14-year old Vinisha Umashankar, a native of Tamil Nadu, India, recognized the need for a sustainable solution to the problem and created a SOLAR powered ironing cart. In 2018, Umashankar became curious about the environmental and health hazards of ironing carts burning charcoal all day. “That’s when I learned that something as common as ironing can have such dangerous consequences,” she told the jury of the Earthshot prize, for which she was a 2021 finalist.

Seven months later, she’d prototyped her cart. Its roof doubles as a panel that absorbs sunlight which convert it into electricity for the iron. SURPLUS energy is stored in a battery for use after dark and on overcast days. Umashankar’s already won a national-level award for her design, as well as a 2020 Children’s Climate Prize.

Her simple-yet-revolutionary innovation, If implemented on a large scale, can have a significant positive impact on India’s air quality and people’s health, while reducing unsustainable use of wood.

DEEPER DIVE: CCP, Time, Vajiram, EarthShot Prize



I wouldn’t call us gadget geeks here at the Climate Daily. What I will say is we do love technology that’s good for the climate, and enhances natural, nutritious personal food security, too. Earlier this year, we reported on Farmbot, an agricultural robot that will create and maintain your square foot garden plot. But what if you don’t have an outdoors?

You’ve still got options. Here are two based upon the concept of hydroponic gardening. Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants without soil. … In a traditional garden, plant roots have to seek out nutrients in the soil. In hydroponic gardens, nutrients are dissolved in the water that surrounds the roots, so plants have even easier access to the nutrition they need. It’s been estimated that plants grow about 25% faster growth than soil in a hydroponic system.

The first, Rise Gardens, was started in 2019 by Hank Adams, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur with a passion for gardening and growing food. The smallest model made by the hydroponic garden technology company is a rectangular frame that measures 18 inches high by 11 inches deep by 16 inches wide and weighs just 10 pounds, including its own light source to grow your vegetation. 

The second is a series of hydroponic “farms” made by Aerogardens. This company offers systems for growing up to 24 plants per “box.” Both company websites provide resources, a blog and/or a YouTube channel to enhance your inner indoor gardener.

Why do indoor, hydroponic gardens matter to us? Natural, nutritious personal food security. Adapting to climate change involves recognizing food supply chain disruptions will become the norm, so hyper local food solutions will also become the norm, with everybody’s help.

DEEPER DIVE: Hydroponics, Aerogarden, Rise Gardens, Reviews



Perhaps in the new year, you’ll give yourself the gift of a greenhouse session. The Greenhouse Sessions are monthly online gatherings of influential business leaders, passionate change-makers, experts and people curious to understand how we can leverage emerging innovation and technology to protect our environment and people.

Greenhouse Sessions are a collaboration between World Wildlife Fund Panda Labs Kenya and the Amani Institute. Panda Labs is a pillar in the global innovation community at WWF that supports teams around the world to develop and test local models for applying innovation methodologies and help discover solutions to wicked conservation challenges.

The AMANI Institute was launched in 2011 by Roshan Paul and Ilaina Rabbat, who had a bold dream: to offer a new model of higher education, originating in the Global South, for social impact professionals, accessible for people all over the world.

The Greenhouse Sessions promise to educate, inspire and create a framework for collaboration – leaving the audience with the power to author a different future by using the power of story, immersive experiences, content capture and collaboration,

Past Greenhouse Sessions include “Conservation Impact Acceleration Course”; “How to Measure Social and Environmental Impact”; and “Mobilizing and Advocating Effectively for Conservation Impact.”

The most recent one, “Innovation as a Strategy for Greater Social Impact” occurred just last week. It was so good, I’m inviting everybody to attend the next one. Keep an eye out for it by VISITING on over to, or by clicking on the link in the Deeper Dive Section of this story at Or just keep listening to us. We’ll announce when the next session is about to occur as soon as it’s announced.

DEEPER DIVE: GreenHouse SessionsPanda Labs, Amani Institute,