Air travel is bad for the environment. You just can’t get away from that fact. But Southwest Airlines has been making a huge leap in the right direction by joining the growing global community of upcyclers. The Texan low-cost airline, launch project LUV Seat in 2012 which involves upcycling the leather from the seating of their 450 jets and replacing them with lighter faux leather seats to save fuel and carbon emissions. Upcycling 80,000 seats (around 32 football fields of leather) was certainly an ambitious project. The airline decided to team up with African charities and NGO’s to not only repurpose the leather, but to provide training, employment and much needed resources for African communities. To date:
- Life Beads Kenya has made 15,000 bags and wallets as part of its training program for women and those with disabilities.
- Maasai Treads is making 2,100 pairs of shoes in order to protect children in African communities from shoe flea infestations (called jiggers).
- Alive and Kicking in Kenya, has created over 1000 soccer balls from the Southwest Airlines leather to be distributed to local kids.
As an added bonus, you can also get your hands on one of these limited edition upcycling creations by purchasing the Looptworks LUV Seat convertible tote bag. The upycling company from Portland has been helping Southwest with its mountain of leather, by creating absolutely stunning violet and camel totes and toiletry bags, on sale right now. Compared to a buying new, each Looptworks bag saves 70% of the carbon emissions and 15,000 litres of water! And it doesn’t end there. The new seats make each plane 272 kilos lighter, which on a flight between Sydney and Perth would save over 500 kilos of carbon pollution. At over 3400 flights per year, Southwest Airlines has saved over 1.5 million kilos of carbon- the equivalent of taking nearly 300 cars off the road for a year! The airline is planning to expand its upcycling project into Latin America over the next few years and is also looking at ways to repurpose other waste such as snack packaging. Our Upcycle Studio hats are off to the team at Southwest Airlines so don’t forget to grab your Looptworks LUV Seat Tote. According to their online store, they only have enough leather for 150 more bags, so be quick!