Rescue dinner dates with a passion: What it's like to date an environmentalist

What's it like to date an environmentalist? (Photo: Getty Images)
What's it like to date an environmentalist? (Photo: Getty Images)

From food rescue dates to upcycled gifts, some might find it difficult to date an environmentalist, but for Indah, Chappy is exactly who she wants in a partner. Here, she shares with Arika Kim more about how she met Chappy, and what their dates are like. Names have been changed upon request.

I first met Chappy on the dating app, OkCupid.

Initially, when I saw his profile, I wasn’t sure if I ought to swipe right because he’s not the type I tend to go for. He did have a picture with a huge Dalmatian, and he seemed like a pretty chill guy with hobbies, and not the typical activities that most men do such as gymming. .

Our first date was simple but quite memorable. I’ve imposed a two-hour first date rule on myself so as to not feel pressured.

However, the first date we went on lasted from 10.30am till 3pm, which was unprecedented for me. On our date, we had a light breakfast before heading to his art exhibition. We then had snacks which he placed in his personal tumbler and plastic container.

During the exhibition, he talked so passionately about his art work and I found that so attractive. When I first got to know him, I wasn’t even sure if we might be romantically compatible, but I enjoyed the first date so much that I decided to give it another try.

Chappy got involved in environmental work when he volunteered at the Ground Up Initiative while he was studying in university. Since then, he saw there was a need to conserve and protect the environment.

As an "eco warrior", Chappy rescues food, dumpster dives, and grows his own vegetables in his public housing estate’s garden. He also tries to lead a zero-to-minimal waste lifestyle.

Chappy's such a huge nerd and has so many fun facts about Southeast Asia. He can talk repeatedly about his work, and I find that so cute. It’s really grown on me.

Bread left on a shelf. (Photo: Getty Images)
Bread left on a shelf. (Photo: Getty Images)

Dating and saving the environment at the same time

When he first told me about his work as an environmentalist, I didn’t think too much about it.

In fact, I thought it was great that I finally met someone "woke" — which can be rare in the local dating scene.

Eventually, I got to see how he does community work for the environment. His dedication and passion for his mission really wowed me.

Recently, I saw him rescue bread from a neighbourhood bakery where he packed everything and was constantly on his phone texting people and informing the community about the bread collection.

By the end of it, his shirt was drenched in sweat, and he was still being so thoughtful about wanting to save bread for his neighbour who was recently diagnosed with COVID. It was extremely heartening to watch him.

One of the most unique dates I’ve been on with him involved us going out for a rescue dinner.

For those who might not know, rescue dates generally involve getting food that might be tossed out at the end of the day because of overproduction.

We started the date off with ice cream from a local ice cream cart, then we went to a map exhibition at the National Library. We then went to Old Airport Road Food Center where we had a rescue dinner. He even brought me a rescued, “brand new” bento box so I could eat dinner out of it.

After the date, he brought the remaining food to a low-income estate and gave it out to someone who needed food.

What I liked about the date was that it was a very intentional yet thoughtful date where he was able to show me his genuineness, kindness, and demonstrated just how much our values aligned.

Changing habits

Since being with him, I’ve slowly changed my spending habits and have been a lot more conscious about what I’m doing and how it contributes to the environment.

For example, instead of using wet tissue to clean our hands and mouth at the end of a meal, I would go to the sink or find the nearest toilet to wash my hands.

It’s the littlest environment habits of his that I noticed that I have picked up from him. I’ve not fully adopted all his habits but I’m trying to learn and apply what I feel I can do at a level I’m comfortable with.

While my friends are supportive of my relationship with Chappy, most of them are worried about his dumpster diving habits and the potential hoarding situation it could lead to.

When I went to his room once, I was shocked at the amount of stuff he had but I was also impressed by how organised things were.

Personally, what’s most important to me is that he knows about my expectations when it comes to "hoarding" things if we do end up living together.

Lately, we’ve been able to do a lot of repurposing and figured out how we could redecorate his room with the stuff he’s found.

My friends are also self-conscious about their own environmental habits when they hang out with him so I have to remind them that it’s fine and that he doesn’t impose on others.

To me, Chappy is such a sweetheart. Once, he asked me whether I’d like him more if he paid more attention to me instead of going out and dumpster diving or gardening.

Sometimes, he tells me he feels bad that he doesn’t treat me the way girls typically want to be treated. In all honesty, the fact that he’s unlike any guy I’ve dated before is so much more attractive.

Recently, while we were in the famous flower district while on holiday in Kuala Lumpur, I was wondering why a lot of the girls walking around had flowers and he asked if I wanted one.

To Chappy, flowers produce a lot of waste so the fact that he was willing to push that aside to make me happy was such a sweet gesture.

Right now, I’m excited to see where my relationship with Chappy goes. We’ve recently started discussing wanting to move in together, and potentially buying a house. It’s all very exciting yet scary for me!

A Millennial's Dating Diary series explores real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series features the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.

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