I know when I shop at my local Publix, the cashiers and baggers do not give me strange looks for bringing my own tote bags. Most baggers even slow down and try to keep my groceries well organized while fitting as much in each bag as possible.
Also, when I bought four bottles of wine for a party, the cashier gave me a free reusable wine tote that has partitions to hold my four bottles. This made me curious to know what else Publix was doing for the environment and to reduce its footprint.
Publix’s recycling rate in 2008 was 42%. That year, the company recycled 6,700 tons of plastic and 215,000 tons of cardboard. According to Publix, each location has recycling bins for paper and plastic bags. The company claims that it is working to improve these statistics in upcoming years.
The store sells reusable shopping bags for $1. Since 2007, 10 million reusable bags have been sold, which hopefully means customers are bringing them in to use instead of wasting paper or plastic bags for groceries. According to Publix, the company has worked to promote the reusable bags and trained employees on how to bag products for maximum efficiency. The company says its reusable bag efforts save a million plastic and paper bags daily.
Publix put on a “Design-A-Bag” contest
for 6th grade students in the Southeast region, and the winning design was printed on reusable bags and distributed to teachers whose classrooms participated.
The labels that supply food to Publix must have packaging that is recyclable or
is made from recycled materials (unless the food cannot be safely packaged for the consumer in such materials). The Publix label works to reduce its packaging as well. The company changed vendors to reduce the amount of plastic in its water bottles. From this change, 3.6 million pounds of plastic is saved annually.
With its corporate headquarters located in sunny Lakeland, FL, Publix representatives are working to implement more solar-powered facilities. So far, four locations have their own working photovoltaic systems: Publix at Miami Lakes, GreenWise Market at Palm Beach Gardens, GreenWise Market at Boca Raton and the corporate headquarters.
LED lighting brightens up the coolers and freezers in Publix locations. Newer stores have sensors on the sales floor that turn off LED lights when no one is in that specific aisle.
The vehicles in the Publix fleet are also being examined for sustainability. The business currently owns about 170 hybrids and 331 flex-fuel vehicles. Publix has been working on transportation efficiency, and in the last two years, its vehicles have traveled 28,000 miles fewer per week (thus saving the atmosphere 2,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions). To reduce the negative impact of driving, each truck is loaded more efficiently, routes were refigured and vehicles have been examined for maximum fuel savings.
Currently, Publix has more than 300 items that are locally grown. In South Florida specifically, customers can buy items such as zucchini, squash, okra, avocados and green beans grown in the Redland community. If you don’t know what Publix has in your store from local producers, ask an employee.
Publix’s What You Can Do
section of its website is devoted to green living tips for you and your community.