Eco-consciousness is not a quality exclusive to vegans, hybrid drivers, and taciturn folk living in solar powered, FSC-certified log cabins in the woods. As environmental awareness and activism expands, green living has become applicable to the singles scene, too. Traditionally, singles on the prowl work from a unique mental checklist detailing what they're looking for in an ideal mate: personality, mutual interests, certain physical attributes, and monetary assets are all standards. Nowadays, green habits are also an integral part of dating criteria. Does she recycle? How frequently does he carpool to his nonprofit job? Is that a cork footstool in his living room? Am I running my hands through hair washed with botanic-based shampoo? Such may be thoughts of the "ecosexual", a term describing someone, in a dating sense, attracted to others with compatible environmental values.
Read on to discover methods for connecting with green Mr. or Ms. Right—feel free to share with your meddling mother in Poughkeepsie, the office matchmaker, or the friend who is perpetually trying to hook you up but failing. Also included—ways you can make your dating life more eco-friendly, whether you’re seeing a dark green goddess or a hopeless but affable bachelor who can’t seem to separate his paper from his plastics.
Log on for love
Gone are the days of newspaper classifieds, 1-800 numbers, matchmaking services, and awkward blind dates arranged by friends. Online dating sites—an industry expected to be worth $932 million by 2011 in the US—were frequented by around 20 million "desperately seeking" US visitors in December 2006. In fact, at any given time, one in five of the 100 million unattached Americans heads online looking for love.
At the end of November 2004 there were 844 dating and lifestyle websites. These include popular sites—Match.com, OKCupid, Lavalife, eHarmony, True.com, Plentyoffish, and others—along with a bounty of niche sites like Nerd Passions, Catholic Singles, SENIORPeopleMeet.com, JDate, Gay.com, and industry trendsetter Nerve.com. Joining the ranks of specialty sites for horse and wine enthusiasts are a slew of sites for cyber greenies looking to connect like Green-Passions, Earth Wise Singles, Green Singles, Planet Earth Singles, and more. These sites generally cater to users—straight, gay, lesbian, or anything in between—with a wide range of eco-interests from vegetarianism/veganism to environmental activism to outdoor recreation to holistic living. Additionally, amorous amity can be found on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster.
The organic route
Although hunting for a dream date online has gone mainstream, some prefer the old-fashioned method of putting themselves out there and seeing what bites. There will always be tried-and-true spots to initiate romance: the office, the gym, the laundromat, dog parks, the organic produce aisle at your local grocery store. but there are also informal monthly events—such as Green Drinks, which takes place in over 328 locales from Seattle to Singapore—that allow greenies from the community to talk green, network, socialize, and maybe snag a hot date over libations. After a humble, few-people-strong start at a London pub called the Slug and Lettuce in 1989, Melbourne, Australia hosted the largest Green Drinks event to date with 1,800 attendees in February 2008.
For those who would rather put their words into action than schmooze, joining a green nonprofit organization, conservation group, or volunteer effort can also produce romantic results. You never know, you may be able to tell your children you met while cleaning up marine debris in Tampa or poop scooping at a bear sanctuary in Minnesota.
So what's next?
For those with little green books chock full of numbers, there are numerous ways to make an active dating life more sustainable without sacrificing any romantic appeal. If you have deep eco-ethics that your latest ladyfriend or boytoy don’t see eye to eye with, start in easy. You don’t want your environmental tendencies scaring them off. For a start, typical dating activities can easily be made green: try dining out at a restaurant that serves locally grown vegetarian fare. Does Mr. X fancy himself an oenophile? Pour him a glass of biodynamic Pinot Noir. Are flowers the way to not-so-sustainable-Suzie’s heart? Send her a bunch of organic roses. Suggest fun bonding activities that will leave a minimal carbon footprint. Bike rides, hiking, camping, catching a flick, visiting a farmers market, exploring new parts of the city by way of bus or subway, introducing sustainability into the bedroom … the possibilities are endless with the help of a little eco-imagination.
And a good reason to find the right mate and stay together: according to a study by Dutch academic Jan Kooijman, singles who live alone have a higher carbon footprint than those who cohabitate or are married. This is the result of the need for more living spaces and household goods—everything from kitchen appliances to mattresses to toothpaste—that are required for each solo-dweller.
- The Huffington Post - How To Find Love In A Greener World
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Must Love Carbon Offsets
- MSN Dating & Personals - 10 dating statistics you ought to know
- The Dating Blog
- NOW Magazine - Hunting Down Environmental Hotties
- Gaiam Community - QUIZ: Are You an Eco-sexual?
- The Argus - The eco-dating game Thoughts on "ecosexualism" from across the pond
- Metrics 2.0 - US Online Dating Market by the Numbers: 20M Visitors in December
- Ideal Bite - Looking for someone to Bite you on a regular basis?
- Los Angeles Business Journal - Bloom off the rose: online dating services struggle to keep market share
- LiveGreen - Green Drinks: Simple, Unstructured...a talk with founder Edwin Datschefski
- Green Drinks - News