By Shubhangi Shah
Genuinely caring about the planet and climate change is so hot,” says Kani Panjwani, a 20-year-old Tinder user from Bengaluru. “I would love to have my first date on a beach clean-up drive where we can have our chit-chats and at the same time make our small contribution to a cleaner environment,” she adds.
We all know how environmentally damaging fast fashion can be. Shreyas Korde (23), who hails from New Delhi and “loves fashion”, says, “I am aware of the negative impact of fast fashion. For me, my perfect match would be someone who feels the same way because DIY-ing or upcycling clothes together could be so much fun.”
“Coffee dates are so cliche. Going to a vegan restaurant or a pet-friendly park is more my kinda vibe,” says Mumbai-based Shania Periera, another user of the dating app Tinder.
An uptick in trend?
In a survey, Tinder found a three-time increase in terms like ‘eco-conscious’ in the users’ bios, which “indicates that members are conscious about protecting and preserving the environment and are also looking for a green match who shares the same values”, it said. There has also been a 56% rise in terms like ‘thrifting’ in the bios. “Pre-loved and upcycled fashion is all the rage now,” the dating app, which boasts of about 75 million active users, said. The mention of the term ‘plant parent’ has also increased two times, it added.
These indicate an increased consciousness towards the environment, at least in the digital space, which is transcending the dating space too.
Not just Tinder, the woman-first dating platform Bumble, too, hints at the same. In fact, it has gone on to say that green dating “as a trend has started gaining traction in India. People are making more values-driven dating decisions and have an increased appreciation of our environment”.
Data shows that ‘environmentalism’ is one of the top value interest badges to Bumble profiles in India. An interest badge is a feature that allows users to share more details about their likes, dislikes, and personalities. They can choose five from a list of 150 interest badges, which can be anything from your favourite movie, show, book, and music to sports, hobbies, etc.
Out of those who recently added value interest badges to their dating profile, over a quarter (28%) selected ‘environmentalism’, it said. Not just that, research conducted by Bumble last year “found that post-lockdown, single Indians are now planning to keep first dates active with a walk in the park or an outdoor picnic”.
So, what is behind this trend? Is it really environmental consciousness, or does being environmentally conscious make you a hot prospect? Or is it both?
Dating app QuackQuack conducted a survey on the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5. According to it, 21% of users between 18 and 21 years said that being environmentally woke is a coveted and desirable attribute when looking for matches. Not just that, daters from metros between the ages of 25 and 30 years said that environmental issues do not always feature in conversations with their matches. However, dating someone ignorant about climate change and likes is out of the question.
So, here you go. The green dating trend has as much to do with the environment as being environmentally woke, making you a desirable prospect. In other words, the environment might not benefit from your dating life, but you can definitely benefit from the environment when it comes to dating.
Gen Zs driving the trend
Whether it’s really for the environment or not, there seems to be an uptick in environment and climate change featuring in the dating space. And this green dating trend seems to be largely driven by Gen Zs (those born between 1997 and 2012).
“In India, while millennials have been known to promote environmental activism, it’s now the Gen Zs who are also taking the conversation forward,” Bumble said. The dating app QuackQuack has found the same. “Gen Z is keener in their conversations discussing organic food, going vegetarian, public cleanliness, less use of plastics, and electric vehicles, unlike other age groups,” said Ravi Mittal, founder and CEO of QuackQuack. The same was seconded by Tinder. “We have also noticed more Gen Z adding interests like environmentalism, vegan cooking, gardening, and even second-hand apparel, signaling that being environmentally conscious isn’t just a way of life. It impacts Gen Z’s dating choices too,” it said.
Just like Bumble has interest badges, Tinder has ‘Explore’, a newly created feature within the app that allows users more control over who they meet by giving them the option to navigate through profiles arranged by interest, the dating platform said. So, if you want to match with someone who cares about this planet as much as you do, just navigate to ‘Nature Lovers’ or ‘Social Causes’ in Explore, it explained. Apart from this, users can also mention their top five interests in their bios to connect with their potential matches easily.
Jill Crosby created Green Singles, a dating platform way back in 1996 so that “environmentally conscious singles could connect and create loving, supportive relationships”. “It birthed from a belief that there was a need for it, as environmentalists, animal activists, vegans, and vegetarians (our target market) prefer to date and marry those who are equally passionate about healing and being stewards to our precious Mother Earth,” she adds.
Speaking about Green Singles, Crosby says it’s a free-to-join dating platform where the users delve into deeper issues on environmentalism, such as veganism, animal testing, farming practices, etc.
A trend whose time has come?
According to Samarpita Samaddar, India communications director, Bumble, Covid came with monumental challenges. “But we have seen several positive dating trends emerge from the pandemic, and green dating is one that we hope to see continue in 2022. Now more than ever, people are looking to connect with those that share their values and priorities. It is encouraging to see people thinking about how the environment is important in all aspects of their lives, including dating,” she adds.
Similarly, Tinder’s communications director Aahana Dhar says, “Gen Z is aware of the negative impact of climate change and is all about taking matters into their own hands. It translates to their dating life where they are on the lookout for a match who shares the same interests and values as them, especially when it comes to the environment.” And “as we shift back to IRL (in real life) dating, we’re excited to watch Gen Z navigate the world of dating in their own green way,” she adds. “Yes, most definitely, and it’s about time,” says Crosby.
What constitutes a green date?
Yes, not every Indian dates through dating apps, and green dating isn’t restricted to finding environmental conscious or woke prospects online. There are multiple ways to include eco-consciousness while dating.
For example, instead of a restaurant, you can organise an outdoor picnic (only if the weather allows, obviously).
If going to a restaurant, you can pick one themed around the environment.
You can also choose bars with a zero-waste ethos or restaurants that keep their produce seasonal and low-impact. It will also make the hospitality industry rethink how it treats the planet and what can be changed.
Apart from that, a beach clean-up drive or a cycling date can allow you two to bond over issues you both care about while keeping your carbon footprint zero. If thinking of a gift, an indoor plant, organic seeds are some options you can consider.