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The 10 Best Green Dates Ever


Calling all eco-minded daters! Reduce your carbon footprint together with these surprisingly romantic outings.

By Laura Schaefer

he word on the street these days is green, and there’s no reason an earth-friendly sensibility can’t sneak into your love life, too. It’s the time of year to get outside and do right by your planet, especially if you have a new crush to share it with. And who knows? Your low-impact living may have a big impact on that someone special.

1. Go to market.
What could be more fun than wandering around an outdoor market with your new
Nothing’s more romantic than stargazing.
squeeze and taste-testing all of the area’s best foods? Grab a yummy selection of cheeses, fruits, and vino (or organic lemonade) and head to a favorite park to enjoy the wares. This particular date activity supports local growers and makes your tummies happy. More ambitious? Buy a share in a local community farm and enjoy a basket of fresh produce every week to create delicious dinners at home. Find a list of farmer’s markets nationwide by clicking on the map at www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/map.htm.

2. Stroll under the stars.
Getting out in nature makes you want to protect it. For a romantic and environmentally-conscious alternative to dinner-and-a-movie, try a local nighttime stargazing outing. Find one in your area by visiting your state’s parks website—for instance, in California, it’s www.parks.ca.gov.

3. Try eco-warrioring.
If you and your date are hardcore environmentalists, you may find true love blossoms through activism. Volunteer on a political campaign for an earth-friendly leader or begin a local word-of-mouth movement to encourage people to bike to work or take public transportation.

4. Grab a paddle.
For a peaceful and active green date, get out on the water in a canoe or kayak. Enjoying your lakes or coastlines is a soothing way to honor nature, especially if no gasoline engines are involved to disturb the local wildlife and atmosphere. (This pastime may also make you aware of the effect of everything from littering to fertilizer runoff on your neck of the woods, which could spur you and your honey on in other environmental action.) Many paddle sport shops and state parks rent boats for reasonable fees; bring a backpack with snacks and make a day of it.

5. Hit the fields.
Heard of Community Supported Agriculture? These farms are run in part with help from local volunteers, who go out and take part in cultivating their share of food. By visiting the farm on an early date, you and your squeeze can connect to the earth in a new way, satisfying not only your green sensibility, but your body as well. Volunteering on a CSA is great exercise. “Last summer I went to volunteer with a new guy,” recalls Nicole Soper, a massage therapist. As ways of bonding go, she notes that “it was pretty cool.” Visit www.localharvest.org/csa for more information.

6. Be a garbage collector.
“I went for a walk by the lake with this girl, picked up an old soda can and carried it until I saw a recycling container in the park. As soon as I turned around, my date ambushed me with a first kiss,” recalls Brandon McDonald, a telecommunications
You may find love blossoms through activism.
sales rep. Many local nature preserves, waterfronts, and parks have clean-up days in which local residents can help with invasive species eradication or trash removal. For events in your area, use the store and event locater at www.rei.com.

7. Have a watershed moment.
If the phrase “watershed management” makes you light up, take your date on a tour of a local waterworks. Not just for grade-school field trips, these complex facilities offer a fascinating insight into how something as basic as water is available to us at all times… and how what we do to our environment affects its quality. “Everyone should tour his or her city’s municipal water treatment plant. Learn where your drinking water comes from and where it goes,” says Stefan Streit, who works at a vegan deli. “[This] reminds me of my last conversation with my current favorite person. She’s in the process of making a shopping guide for herself of corporations/chemicals that she wants to avoid purchasing because of their ecological track records.” Part of the reason they click, he adds, because they “link on this conviction.”

8. Stop and smell the freesia.
Want to be transported to a natural paradise? Spend an afternoon at a botanical garden or nature preserve. Besides being a gorgeous backdrop for a walk or photos, these centers promote understanding of local plant species and gardening techniques. Go for an hour or two and get inspired to plant your own small plot. Oh, and to get there? Use a pair of bikes, naturally!

9. Give each other a green makeover.
After you’ve been on several outdoors dates, spend an evening in with your sweetie making over your households with green solutions. Some ideas: Caulk windows, build a compost bin, hang a clothesline, and install low-flow faucets for an earth-friendly home environment. Then save electricity by switching off the lamps and cuddling by candlelight.

10. Rock the planet.
Becoming more enlightened about green issues will help you two bond… and let you meet like-minded couples for double dates. Check your local alternative weekly newspaper or college campus for information on upcoming environmental talks, or make plans to attend one of the Live Earth concerts (an Al Gore project) going on for 24 hours around the globe on July 7th (www.liveearth.org) —or host a viewing or listening party!


Laura Schaefer is the author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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