Q: I realize I may be barking up the wrong sustainably managed tree, but I’m on the lookout for love and hope to find it before the summer’s end. The thing is, I’m a gal with green leanings and recent dating experiences that have been arranged through traditional sources (i.e: friends, coworkers, the Internet, my mother) have been an eco-horror show. Not that I require a VGL vegan who drives a biodiesel-powered car, cultivates organic lettuce in his back yard, and wears hemp trousers (mind you, none of these things would hurt,) but the last few guys I’ve seen hardly know how to separate their paper from their plastic. I like to think as myself as a modern woman open to new ideas and lifestyles, but I’m tired of mingling with potential mates who couldn’t give a toss about the health of our planet. Do you know of any surefire ways I can score a compatible fella without loitering around the parking lots of solar panel supply stores and the produce section at Whole Foods?

Desperately seeking,

-- Sandy, Chicago, Ill.

A: Two things right off the bat: I applaud your open mindedness – if the absolutely perfect green man does exist, he’s more elusive than Bigfoot so don’t become stressed if you aren’t finding him, but don’t give yourself a deadline. If you can’t secure Mr. Right (or Mr. Right Now) by summer’s end, don’t sweat it. I’m not a relationships columnist nor a matchmaker, but one piece of love advice I can give: Forcing it isn’t good. I’m guessing “organic” is a buzz word you are applying to your love live. The way you approach finding an ecosexual mate should be just that.

On the green singles front, you have plenty of options. Use living in Chicago to your advantage and attend a Green Drinks meet-up if you haven’t already. These informal global events in over 542 cities are ripe with green singles (and plenty of interesting folks in committed relationships). You don’t have to drink, obviously, but a little social lubrication never hurt anyone. And if you no one catches your eye at Green Drinks, at the very least you’ve networked, socialized and had a nice night out. And don’t worry, the Green Drinks folks won’t audit you at the door. Go as you are.

Chicago is also a great place, I’m guessing, for eco-centric volunteer opportunities if you’d rather put your passions into action rather than chat about them over cocktails. Picking up litter along the shores of Lake Michigan isn’t the sexiest way to meet a man, I know, but it’s worth a shot. Focus on something that truly inspires and motivates you and work with that. If a relationship isn’t born out of your volunteering, so be it … you’ve made Mamma Nature proud.

In your letter, you mention online dating. If that’s a method that’s worked for you in the past, give it a go but try customizing it to fit around your green values and interests a bit more. If you’re following an eligible young environmentalist on Twitter, send him a shout-out and see if he bites. Flirt a little. There’s also a slew of Web sites geared specifically to singles with green inclinations: Planet Earth Singles, Green-Passions, GreenSingles, and Whole Earth Friends are just a few. Non-niche dating sites like Match.com also lets you filter out the green from the good, the bad and the ugly.

Modern love, green or not, is complicated and this was just the basics in finding romantic eco-compatibility. Do what you feel is right. Everyone has pet peeves (I’d walk out on a date with no hesitation if they scraped their fork against their teeth while eating) and yours are important.

One last piece of advice: Be gentle. Going green isn’t a contest. If you meet someone who isn’t exactly up to snuff but is eco-curious, be patient and continue to be open minded. There’s no reason to be self-righteous or set the bar to impossible heights. He can learn from you (and you can mold him into your ideal green man). This may sound elementary, but sharing is an important part of meeting someone new and that includes sharing your green values and interests with someone whose values and interests don’t perfectly replicate yours. That said, if he gets his kicks by tossing Styrofoam into wetland preserves, than no need to share. Move on and don’t look back.

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