Publix workers carry out Earth Day cleanup at Sebastian Inlet State Park


Over the years, Publix volunteers have scoured the Sebastian Inlet State Park shorelines for trash, removing discarded bags, fishing line hooks, cast nets and even once finding a small boat engine. Now, employees are aiming to continue bringing awareness to environmental sustainability and water conservation efforts through their annual parkwide cleanup.

“This is the third year that we’ve come here and done this type of project,” said Chris Ellis, Vero Beach Publix store manager. “There’s always quite a bit that gets cleaned out.”

Publix associate participating in a beach cleanup Tuesday April 23, 2024 at Sebastian Inlet State Park. PHOTO BY NICK SAMUEL

Dozens of Publix employees – as part of ongoing events marking Earth Day – removed debris, repainted buildings and recycled spent fishing nets at the 1,000-acre state park stretching from southern Brevard County to northern Indian River County.

“Our associates being here – it opens their eyes to what’s going on in the environment and what we can do to correct and prevent it moving forward,” Ellis said during the cleanup. “The general public sees what’s going on. They see 120 people out here in green ‘Publix Serves’ shirts. They ask questions. We let them know and maybe it’ll open their eyes and bring awareness. We all like clean water and a clean environment.”

The Publix workers gathered at a pavilion at 8 a.m. April 23 before breaking off into 11 groups and dispersing to different areas within the park. The employees combed through the park, from the shoreline to the marina, picking up trash and pulling up invasive plants, trimming trees and restoring buildings.

Publix associate participating in a beach cleanup Tuesday April 23, 2024 at Sebastian Inlet State Park. PHOTO BY NICK SAMUEL

The event was held one day after Earth Day – the annual, global celebration used to highlight environmental causes. The cleanup was also held during Publix Serves week, a corporate program launched in 2015 that allows employees to revitalize their communities through activities such as planting trees and cleaning beaches and parks.

Publix Serves week is held twice a year – in the spring and fall, according to the company’s website. Local volunteers were part of nearly 7,500 associates who participated in beautification projects throughout last week across the eight states Publix operates in.

“Green is more than the color of the Publix logo,” said Lindsey Willis, media relations manager for Publix Super Markets, Inc. “It also represents the company’s commitment to the environment and being responsible citizens in the communities it serves, not just on Earth Day but every day.”

Sebastian Inlet State Park is nestled more three miles along the barrier island. Residents and visitors flock to the popular park for surfing, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, boating and camping.

Even more people were expected to turn out for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. Gov. DeSantis ordered fees to be waived at all state parks for the holiday weekend, making the cleanup more timely, observers point out.

Publix representatives said they were happy to clean the park and do their part in restoring the environment.

“It’s always a great feeling to give back to the community,” said Trisha Miller, Publix District Manager.

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