Southwest Airlines Upcycles 80,000 Leather Seats Into Shoes, Bags, Balls


Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines will lighten its 737-700 aircrafts by over 600 pounds by replacing its leather covered seats with lighter material. The change was aimed at reducing weight – 600 lbs per plane – and thus fuel. The airline, having cracked the top 100 in Newsweek’s annual green company rankings this year didn’t want to throw away the 80,000 leather seat coverings in a landfill. To solve this problem, Southwest Airlines, launched LUV Seat: Repurpose with Purpose, a multi-phase sustainability program that partners with social enterprises in Nairobi, Kenya, the Republic of Malawi and the United States, to produce goods that create opportunities for training and employment while preventing additional waste.

“The Evolve redesign was a major milestone in supporting our sustainability goals,” Bill Tiffany, vice president of supply chain management at Southwest Airlines, said in a press statement. “But we didn’t want to stop there — with the pilot of LUV Seat in Nairobi, Malawi, and the United States, we’re embarking on a new vision of social impact through training, job creation and ultimately product donation. We look forward to identifying additional partners through a call to action for our employees, customers and the general public to share their ideas of what we should do with the remaining leather.”

In its initial multi-year campaign, the Southwest LUV Seat program will be used in connection with the following organizations:

  • In Nairobi, Kenya, the project’s pilot location, SOS Children’s Villages KenyaAlive & Kicking to make footballs,Masaai Treads to make over 2,000 shoes and Life Beads Kenya will use the excess leather to produce goods for distribution to local community groups.
  • TeamLift, a U.S. organization supporting education and healthcare for women and children in sub-Saharan Africa, will develop a leather-works training program to teach young women important entrepreneurial skills while generating proceeds to support the program.
  • In the U.S., LooptWorks, an apparel and accessories brand that rescues premium excess materials to design and produce sustainable, limited-edition products, will upcycle LUV Seat leather into high-quality goods as part of Southwest’s celebration of the end of the Wright Amendment in Dallas. “The water conserved by making goods using old leather rather than virgin leather is enormous,” says Looptworks co-founder Scott Hamlin. “For each bag, 4,000 gallons of water is saved. In addition, there’s a CO2 reduction of up to 82%.”

Via TriplePundit