Living within the bounds of an eco-dating lifestyle requires a certain amount of imagination and creativity, which is actually a good thing. Sure, you might have restrictions placed on what you can and can’t do in your romances, but living in those boundaries requires you to think outside the box. It’s like those great Russian novels produced with Tsarist censorship looming over the author’s writing pens or the brilliant creativity of the Impressionists struggling against the artistic restrictions of the Second Republic: boundaries can stoke creativity.
With that in mind, here are eight creative ways to enhance your eco-dating single life, as well as two ways to impose more limits on your eco-dating. The important thing to remember is you shouldn’t look at an ecologically-friendly lifestyle as a burden. Eco-living is actually an invitation to get imaginative.
The Do’s of Eco-Dating
- Use a Vegetarian Restaurant Guide – For those who want to avoid tapping into the animal population when having a nice date out on the town, use an online vegetarian restaurant finder to find a good place the two of you can go for drinks or a meal. A site like “HappyCow” lets you look up restaurants in your area according to search criteria like vegetarian, Vegan or “vegetarian-friendly”.
- Volunteer at a Local Eco-Friendly Organization – When you meet someone online for a first date, we always suggest you meet them in a public place and get to know them well before moving on to private time. That usually suggests a restaurant, bar or coffee shop. But why not an eco-friendly first date? Meeting at a volunteer organization is a good way to break the ice and get to see this person interact with other people, instead of the detached (and sometimes deceptive) world of keyboard communications.
- Go Biking Together – Biking lets you save gas, get into nature, energize yourself with exercise and be alone to talk while you ride. Riding bicycles is relaxing (if you’re in decent shape) and it lets the two of you share an experience the way no car ride is.
- Candlelight Dinner – This one is a no-brainer. Besides having more control of the food you’ll be eating, eating at home under candlelight lets you treat him or her to an old-fashioned candlelight dinner. Turn off the lights and save electricity. It’s a whole lot more romantic staring into your partner’s eyes with nothing but candlelight between you. If you’re concerned about the petroleum in wax candles, burn beeswax candles or soy candles instead. Okay, you have my permission to turn on some mood music.
- Grow Your Own Flowers – A rewarding experience is to pot and grow your own flowers. Nurture your own floral decorations and you’ll have flowers to give as a gift to your date that you know are free of pesticides and other ecological no-no’s. And really, what’s more romantic than saying, “I grew this rose just for you.”
- Green Gifting – If it’s time to give a gift, consider giving a gift that doesn’t require that gift to be manufactured and transported. Maybe you create your own gift, like the homegrown flowers above, or you paint a picture or write a song for the person. If those aren’t your talents, consider a simple “I love you” note written on recycled paper. And if none of those ideas really do the trick for you, consider a gift you can both share – like theater tickets or concert tickets. Pick the right show and those tickets will be recycled. Even if not, it’s still a lot more eco-friendly than some fully manufactured, wrapped-up gift.
- Go to a Conversation Event – Local organizations and state park will have outdoor events that are a great way to enjoy the world around you and get to know each other. Conserving nature implies you want to enjoy that nature at some time in the future, so get outside and enjoy the fruits of your conservation. Fall in love in a park or forest preserve.
- Eco-Romance – Stay home for a romantic evening every once in a while, but have the romantic evening done the eco-dating way. Besides the nice candlelight dinner over an organic or vegetarian meal, take a shower together to “conserve water”, give a massage with organic massage oils, wear sustainable lingerie (when appropriate), spend the night on organic sheets of bamboo or cotton and leave the lights out.
The Don’ts of Eco-Dating
Okay, I’ve been writing about ways to make your eco-dating relationship better. But I would be overlooking something if I didn’t include a couple of suggestions for your eco-dating life on a macro scale. The don’ts in a dating column bring some negative energy, but that’s somewhat necessary. These two bits of advice are common sense dating tips you already know, but people in these situations sometimes need to be reminded when affairs of the heart are involved. If it makes you feel better, consider these strong suggestions and not commands.
- Avoid Long Distance Relationships – We all know that long-distance relationships stink anyway, so scratch it off the list. The energy costs of you commuting for love are tremendous. The emotional costs of the long-distance love are also huge. As I’ve said before, the phone isn’t your friend in a long-distance relationship, because you talk about all the mundane parts of your day apart from one another and forget what made the romance great to begin with. If this relationship has every prospect of remaining long-distance for the duration, you know you’re just wasting your energy – actually, you’re wasting the Earth’s energy, too. So be eco-friendly and avoid the long-distance romance. You’ll be happier for it in the long run. Remember: eat local, shop local, date local.
- Only Date Green – This is going to sound elitist, but I’m going to write it anyway: only date green. With green dating websites and community groups these days and a world population hurtling towards 7 billion, you have a huge dating pool to choose from. There are over 90 million people in the U.S. alone who are over 18 and single. A good number of those American singles are in your dating “sweet spot” and a significant number are eco-daters. So why reward bad behavior? The ecology is just that important, for our generation, but even moreso for our children’s and grandchildren’s generations.
Eco-Dates Done Right
So there you have it. Dating someone the eco-way is like any other relationship in life: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Find a great dating relationship and then find ways to make that romance even better. You’ll be a happier, healthier person and you’ll live in a healthier, happier world for it.