Originally from the Turks and Caicos Islands, Mario Rigby is proof that eco-travel is possible, having solo-trekked from Cape Town to Cairo by foot and cycled all the way across Canada. Now, the eco-adventurer is back in his homeland to document the natural history of the islands and rebuilding them into sustainable communities.
Normally seen on Instagram (@mariorigby) kayaking, climbing and hiking across the world with barely any carbon footprint, he now shares his experiences in eco-travel with us – from what he’s learned on the way to what we all can do as fellow travellers.
How has travel defined your personality over the years?
Travel has turned me into an adventurer. Every expedition is a challenge to myself to test my utmost limits, whether it’s climbing mountains, kayaking the lengths of great lakes or going far distances in harsh terrains.
What first motivated you to become an eco-explorer, as you’ve coined it?
Coming from the Turks and Caicos Islands, it inspired me to think sustainably and become environmentally conscious. There is a natural need to maintain resources on the island for the growing population, and many of their practices are pointed at this goal – from strict fishing practices to banning single-use plastics.
How can travellers become more sustainable?
Part of eco-travel is deciding not to fly when it is not necessary. An easy change is to pack less and reduce your suitcase size, as this reduces overall flight weight and emissions. When minimalism is favoured over the regular glitz and glamour of travel, then there will be a significant change.
What’s been happening in the world of eco-travel lately?
A lot of companies – particularly travel/adventure/outdoor companies – are shifting toward a more eco-friendly approach to their business. For example, prAna are creating positive change by investing in sustainable approaches to creating and packaging their apparel. In the agriculture and food industry, more companies are moving towards choosing Fair Trade Certified products.
What do you think people can learn from your niche and local experiences?
The importance of collective caring in shared communities, the environment and well-being. We, in the West, tend to put profit and material over our well-being.
If you could go back, dive deeper or live for an extended time in a place you’ve visited, where would it be and why?
I would live with the Nubians through Sudan and Egypt, as they are our closest link to ancient Egyptians. All the Nubians I’ve ever met have a real sense of calmness about them. They care deeply about others, but also care for themselves. Nubian culture has been around for thousands of years, and it would be magical to experience their wisdom and way of life.
Where are you headed next?
Depending on COVID-19, I’m expected to do a few projects in Turks & Caicos Islands documenting a series on the history, culture and beauty of the islands. By the end of the year, I’ll be in British Columbia, Canada for an expedition to explore the effects of climate change on indigenous communities and in 2021, I should be working on a few projects in Africa. Stay tuned!
Follow Mario Rigby on Instagram @mariorigby to learn more about the world of eco-travel.
See also: 9 Black Travel Influencers to Follow