DEBORAH AMOS, host:
Here's a new checklist for you. Recycle - yeah. Drive a Prius - check. Love life - not so great.
Some environmentalists are having a tough time finding true love. NPR's Ben Bergman sat in on a gathering of singles in Santa Monica, California that organizers dubbed a green speed dating event.
BEN BERGMAN: You know, it's hard enough finding singles in L.A. with dashing good looks, a witty sense of humor and a steady job. Tonight there is another challenge. They've also got to have a low carbon footprint. Even environmentalists have their limits though, though everyone valet parks - this is L.A., after all. And what do these treehuggers drive?
Mr. JEFF SEPUTRA (Speed Dater): I drive an SUV.
BERGMAN: An SUV?
Mr. SEPUTRA: I have a Land Rover.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SEPUTRA: A Range Rover.
(Soundbite of music)
BERGMAN: Jeff Seputra is a hedge fund manager who lives in downtown L.A. He says he's been trying really hard to get rid of his gas guzzler.
Do you consider yourself green?
Mr. SEPUTRA: Well, I recycle. That's pretty much what I do, actually. I recycle. And actually I do donate money to causes, green causes.
BERGMAN: Seputra is one about 16 singles here, mostly in their 30s and 40s. They have mere minutes to see if the sparks fly before organizer Vince Dell sounds his horn...
(Soundbite of horn)
BERGMAN: ...and daters make the choice.
Mr. VINCE DELL (Speed Date Organizer): If you like somebody, pick yes on the match form. If you don't like them, pick no - but not in front of their face, okay?
BERGMAN: No awkward exchange of numbers, no stinging face-to-face rejections.
Mr. DELL: At the end of the event sometime tonight I'll give you your individual matches. So if you both picked yes you'll get the email saying so-and-so likes you.
BERGMAN: Dell says the key to effective speed dating is to say as little as possible.
Mr. DELL: For guys: don't talk too much. The more you say, the more ammunition women have to reject you.
BERGMAN: You want to leave them wanting more.
Mr. DELL: Exactly. Be mysterious. That way you get a second date.
BERGMAN: A few minutes may not seem like much. But actually, Dell says, in speed dating time is the enemy.
Mr. DELL: We ask every person at these events how much time they need. Guys need about five seconds; women need about 10. And so three minutes is more than enough. But the three minutes will kill you. They might like you the first five seconds, but two minutes later you're gone.
BERGMAN: Hoping to avoid that fate, Jeff Seputra sits down at a small table across from Felicia Williams. Their date begins like all do, with awkward small talk.
Mr. SEPUTRA: Where are you from, Felicia?
Ms. FELICIA WILLIAMS (Speed Dater): I live in Pasadena.
Mr. SEPUTRA: Okay. There's a lot of Pasadena people here for some reason.
Ms. WILLIAMS: Really?
Mr. SEPUTRA: Yeah. It's like three of them...
Ms. WILLIAMS: Oh, I didn't know. We should have carpooled.
BERGMAN: Luckily the horn sounds before the Prius-driving Williams has a chance to ask Seputra what he drives.
Mr. SEPUTRA: Anyway, it's very nice to meet you.
Ms. WILLIAMS: Okay. Nice meeting you too. What's your name again?
Mr. SEPUTRA: Jeff.
Ms. WILLIAMS: Jeff, okay.
BERGMAN: Maybe Williams will have more luck with the next guy, aerospace consultant Francois Jacquet.
Mr. FRANCOIS JACQUET (Speed Dater): I'm very green.
BERGMAN: Jacquet is so green that he does something even better than drive a hybrid.
Mr. JACQUET: You know why? I don't own a car, I ride a bicycle, I walk all the time. Whenever I absolutely need a car, make a list of things I need to do, I rent one. I feel that this is pretty green, okay?
BERGMAN: Okay. At the end of the night, everyone turns in their match forms, everyone except Jacquet, that is, because unfortunately no one is green enough for him.
Mr. JACQUET: Let's say somebody does all their shopping at Whole Foods network, they drive a Prius, and threw out all their working incandescent lights; all those efforts are misguided. But at least they tried, you know? I didn't even see anybody like that here. I mean, we can't all drive a bicycle like I do. But I want to see people at a green speed dating event that've at least tried something. But hey, let's have more of these. I think they're great.
BERGMAN: Plans are already in the works for more green speed dating; this time in Orange County, California.
Ben Bergman, NPR News, Los Angeles.
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