Having worked on several pressing social issues in the past, Nigin Binish walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir in 2017 to raise awareness about food wastage.
Asked to describe himself, Nigin says he is a “human powered adventurer with social messages”.
His next big adventure is slated for 2019, when he will represent India as one of 80 ambassadors from across the world in the ClimateForce Arctic expedition, to help battle climate change.
We spoke to him about his story— what motivates him to work towards social causes, how he decided to take up his unique methods, and what challenges he has faced on his expeditions.
Nigin decided to devote himself to raising social awareness after an encounter with a Malaysian man in Doddabetta, the highest peak in Tamil Nadu. Two years ago, after he started riding a bicycle around Coimbatore as a means of transport, he set out to cycle to the peak.
The man he met was cycling from Cochin to New Delhi to create awareness about marine conservation in seas, and had done the same in six other countries earlier. Hearing about his travel experiences inspired Nigin, and he decided to use his bicycle to raise awareness about issues such as water conservation and sea erosion, as well as to promote book-reading, in the southern region of the subcontinent.
This was when he decided he would cycle from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, spreading information about food wastage and hunger in India. Failing to convince his parents to let him carry out the journey on a bicycle, he decided to walk instead.
Walkathons seemed like a good idea because solo, unsupported bicycle rides along this route had been carried out by many other people before. In search of a unique challenge, Nigin decided to travel on foot, without any money.
He hoped that walking would also allow him to interact with more new people than travelling on a bicycle would have.
Food wastage is a cause that he holds dear to his heart. While doing his Masters degree in Coimbatore, he once saw a special needs woman having food out of a dumpster. Heartbroken at the sight, he decided to do something to address this problem.
Nigin was shocked when he decided to do research on food wastage in India. He discovered that almost 7,000 people die every day because of hunger-related issues in the country, while 67 million tonnes of food is wasted annually. He resolved to do his bit in making people conscious and aware of this problem.
On his K2K expedition, Nigin faced a host of challenges. Aside from the wear and tear of the journey itself— blisters, back pain, and loneliness— he had to endure living without money through the course of the journey.
Relying on strangers for food and water, he was showered with kindness from strangers. Some were touched by the message he sought to spread, while others helped him out of sheer curiosity. Despite this, he experienced days when he’d have to go hungry and sleep on an empty stomach.
The language barrier was also a concern for Nigin, who speaks Tamil, Malayalam, and English. Aside from that, weather differences meant that he had never experienced winters as cold as the ones he had to endure in the central and northern parts of the country.
In the long run, Nigin hopes to educate people across the country, and especially those who are part of younger generations, about the pressing nature of the food wastage issue. He is concerned that not enough people speak about, or likely even know about, how grave the situation is.