Q Where can a girl find a cute earth-conscious guy who doesn't drive a gas guzzler or chain himself to a tree?
A Nothing like a holiday dedicated to romance to freak singles out about the slim pickin's in their immediate vicinity. But the Valentine's Day build-up can be even more of a headache for anyone with extra dating filters - you know, like if you'll only smooch non-smoking vegan environmentalist cat- lovers.
First of all, you've got to establish realistic expectations that are right for you. Maybe you don't mind a guy who eats chicken as long as he recycles fervently and bikes to work.
And make sure to allow room for improvement. He may not turn the lights off as often as he should, but you can work on that. You never know, perhaps he's not aware of how polluting his water bottle habit/running toilet is. The critical factor here is that the person is open to new ideas and won't pop a blood vessel when you suggest a switch to compact fluorescent bulbs.
But where do you find such a guy - or girl? (This applies to you, too, single boys.) Well, you can rule out most typical pickup joints, although you might find cute artsy types with a conscience at places like the Social or the Gladstone, depending on the night. Check the listings for eco fundraisers or carbon-neutral band nights (not sure if those actually exist, but you get the point). Or do a little cruisin' at vegetarian restaurants. (Hey, people often eat lunch alone and might enjoy a friendly, non-creepy conversation!)
Really, one of the best ways to find tree-hugging men and women is go straight to the source - volunteer at an environmental org. This way, you can pick the degree of activism you feel comfortable with. Not into the radical tree-chainers? That's okay, just suss out the level-headed folk at more mainstream groups like Sierra Club.
Or get your hands dirty and join restoration efforts in your area (you never know, all that sweaty tree planting and litter collecting could be sexy, or at least an ice breaker). The Ontario Environment Network lists nearly 1,000 eco orgs across the province (www.oen.ca), be they habitat restorers or pollution probers.
Like fresh-air, active types? Join hiking, biking or canoeing troups. The Toronto Bicycling Network doesn't just hold Friday-night rides; it also hosts cross-country ski expeditions and weekend getaways (www.tbn.ca).
Of course, I must reiterate that none of the above groups want their events or meetings turned into predatory meat markets. I'm just saying they provide potential exposure to like-minded people. Green Drinks nights are another good way to broaden your social circle. Every third Wednesday of the month, enviro professionals and greenies meet up for cocktails at the Bedford Academy on Prince Arthur for after-work pints. Average attendance is said to be between 70 to 100, and there are always lots of new faces (www.greendrinks.org).
The only surefire way to know you're mingling with Inconvenient Truthies who are also single and willing to be hit on is to check out some green singles networks. Yes, they exist! Wouldn't you know it, online dating has also gone to the bird-lovers.
GreenSingles.com is probably the biggest online eco dating network, with countless tree-huggin' men and women in the Toronto area (and around the world) to pick from. You'll find every type here from clean-cut therapists to grizzly mountain men - none of whom you'll have to debate on the validity of climate change science (phew). EarthWiseSingles.com has a few dozen across the province. Greenpassions.com has only a handful of single peeps in T.O. posted this week.
Loveisgreen.org has fewer listings for Toronto but lets you look up potential dates based on whether they're "almost vegan," "raw food vegetarians" or "fruitarians" and want a gay, polyamorous or plain old hetero relationship.
The point is, there are tons of different avenues you can travel to find your true green love (or just a good roll in the pesticide-free hay). You just have to branch out.
Oh, and don't forget to save a little extra lovin' for the planet.