Publix is continuing its support of the restoration of damaged Florida watersheds through a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation.
For the sixth year in a row, the Florida-based grocery chain is issuing a donation that will allow for the planting of 126,000 longleaf pine saplings near Econfina Creek and Chipola River, areas nearly stripped of trees by Hurricane Michael in 2018. Publix noted that planting began on Jan. 4 and concluded on Feb. 28.
“It is our privilege to support projects that protect and restore the freshwater supply in our home state,” said Publix Director of Environmental and Sustainability Programs Michael Hewett. “Our collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation will have a lasting effect on the quality and quantity of drinking water in our Florida aquifers.
Since 2016, 731,000 trees have been planted in Florida due to the company’s donations. The annual donation is funded primarily with proceeds from the sale of Publix-branded reusable bags and is part of the company’s commitment to sustainability.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, over the next 50 years, the trees are estimated to reduce rainwater runoff by intercepting more than 66 billion gallons of rainfall. When runoff is reduced, more water soaks into the ground and, ultimately, into the aquifers supplying Florida residents with clean drinking water. Additionally, the trees are estimated to absorb more than 467,000 metric tons of net carbon dioxide during the same period.
In 2021, Publix also donated additional funds to remove invasive trees and plants from portions of the Florida Everglades. The non-native trees and plants disrupt Florida’s natural water cycle by using standing water from rainfall before it can seep into the underground aquifers that provide 8 million South Florida residents with their daily supply of drinking water. According to Publix, a portion of the $2 million donation is being used by the National Audubon Society for a five-year project to remove invasive willows and other plants from approximately 500 acres in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the western Everglades. The National Park Foundation is using its portion of the donation on a three-year effort to remove and control invasive Australian pine trees in approximately 500 acres of the saline glades region in the eastern portion of Everglades National Park.