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Hamptons Life

Aug 8, 2018 9:30 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Perfect Earth Project Holds First Nonevent Fundraiser To Advocate Chemical-Free Lawns

Aug 8, 2018 9:43 AM

Most people wouldn’t be interested in buying a ticket to an event that they can’t attend. However, Perfect Earth Project aims to change people’s minds with their first ever nonevent, a chance to eliminate the waste that goes along with most big Hamptons benefits and teach people the importance of a healthy, chemical-free lawn.

This nonevent will eliminate the huge picnic event that the nonprofit normally hosts and become the first event that nobody will physically attend. Edwina von Gal, the founder and president of Perfect Earth Project in East Hampton, said this “event” will be much better for the environment and save time that would have gone to planning and instead commit that time to their cause.

“There is so much waste in an event. It is between six to 18 months that you’re spending getting things together for the event and that’s time you’re not spending on your mission,” Ms. von Gal said. “You’re not doing what you’re really collecting the money to do.”

She began the Perfect Earth Project in 2013 as a closer-to-home version of her nonprofit in Panama, Azuero Earth Project. It was called to her attention that the East End didn’t have many resources in terms of chemical-free, healthy gardening and she wanted to be the solution.

She passed the Azuero Earth Project on to those who worked with her there and decided to focus her efforts locally. A landscape designer herself, she said she wanted to help her clients in maintaining a healthy, safe lawn after the design job is done.

“I was like everybody else, thinking, ‘Oh, maybe you really need chemicals to do this,’ and I was happily way wrong.” The main message of the nonprofit is to get people to make the commitment to their properties. “It’s like the difference between living together and marriage—you can’t cheat, and why would you? It [would] destroy this beautiful relationship. Yes, you will be tempted, but the more committed you are, the more interesting it is to find the solutions.”

The nonevent furthers this point by encouraging people to buy a ticket and receive a virtual gift basket, full of recipes from local and famous chefs, such as Martha Stewart, who has a home in East Hampton, and Jason Weiner of the Bridgehampton restaurant Almond, and those who buy the higher priced tickets will receive a set of organic napkins featuring exclusive photos from artist and photographer Cindy Sherman, who usually hosts the picnic on her property.

There will also be a virtual music packet for those who will miss the live music at the event. “We were always really known for the amazing music that we had at our events, so now our music directors have put together a really incredible video file of different videos that they’ve curated of all music performed outdoors,” she said.

The only waste produced by the event will be the printed invites, though they will be all recyclable, “except for maybe the stamps.”

She encourages those who would have attended the event to take the time they would have dedicated and not fill it with something else. “Just sit in a chair on your property and listen,” she said. “You bought the ticket, you made the commitment, so go to the party. There’s a party in nature all around you all the time if you just stop and listen.”

Emily Hammond, the Perfect Earth Project’s environmental outreach coordinator, said she also thinks that the extra time the nonevent gives to people is valuable. “It’s really just this opportunity to rest and relax,” she said. “We’re in that world where nothing ever slows down and nobody ever suggests to you that you should.”

She emphasized that it’s hard as a nonprofit to bring in the funds necessary to do their work and spread their message without throwing a huge, fancy party, and she hopes that this event will further encourage people to stop using chemicals on their lawns and consider their waste.

“When people say you can’t have a nice lawn without chemicals, it’s sort of like, ‘Well, did grass grow before we had these chemicals? I’m pretty sure it did, it did fine on its own,” she said.

The Perfect Earth Project’s nonevent will be held wherever you wish, whenever you wish, potentially over Labor Day weekend when the picnic would have been held. Tickets range from $100 to $2,500 and include a virtual picnic basket sent to your email. They can be purchased at perfectearthproject.org.

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