Program fosters lifelong social impact with nonprofit organizations and has kept more than 1.4 million pounds of aircraft seat leather out of landfills

DALLAS, April 30, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) celebrates 10 years of its signature program, Repurpose with Purpose, a global sustainability initiative that creates partnerships with social impact organizations to upcycle and transform aircraft seat leather removed during ongoing aircraft renovations and the aircraft retirement process. Community partners across the globe have upcycled more than one million pounds of Southwest® aircraft seat leather through this program, fostering sustainable solutions with a transformative community impact, including employment opportunities and on-the-job skills training.

"We're proud of the progress we're making alongside our community partners to find new uses for aircraft seat leather through sustainable solutions," said Whitney Eichinger, Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer at Southwest Airlines. "Hearing the stories of the women, children, veterans, and local communities that are supported by Repurpose with Purpose reinforces our vision in giving back to create meaningful change, which is at the Heart of what brings us together."

The program also complements sustainability efforts defined by Southwest in its Nonstop to Net Zero plan which outlines its path to net zero carbon emissions by 20501 and a more sustainable future. The carrier strives to increase circularity2 throughout its operations through sourcing, recycling, and upcycling.

The Repurpose with Purpose program has:  

  • Rerouted more than 1.4 million pounds of leather away from landfills to nonprofit partners that help provide employment, skills training, and workforce development programs.
  • Donated more than $2 million in grants to nonprofit partners across the globe. 
  • Generated more than $1 million in revenue since 2017 for nonprofit partners from the sale of upcycled products. 
  • Been named Runner Up in the Eco-Innovator category for the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship 2024 Innovation Awards, recognizing Southwest as a company that has marshaled the financial and human resources at its disposal to address an environmental issue affecting or relating to that company's core competencies.
  • Collaborated with 12 global nonprofit partners to foster community solutions and expanded opportunities for thousands of individuals, such as:
    • Wearsos, an organization focused on transforming lives through upcycling that provides employment opportunities for marginalized people, championing women empowerment, and creating impact within communities in Costa Rica. This spring, Wearsos, launched their e-commerce site through Southwest support;
    • Longtime Repurpose with Purpose partner, Rethreaded, an organization that harnesses the power of business, community, and time by employing and providing wrap-around services for women who survived human trafficking. Rethreaded has sold more than 38,000 items created using Southwest leather, generating more than $1 million in revenue to support employment of more than 80 women who are survivors of human trafficking;
    • Houston-based nonprofit design house, Magpies & Peacocks, dedicated to the collection, curation, and sustainable reuse of post-consumer textiles to disrupt the cycle of waste in the fashion industry; and  
    • Help Heal Veterans, an organization providing therapeutic craft kits since 1971 to veterans and active-duty military that helps healing through creativity from the visible and invisible wounds of war. Help Heal Veterans has created more than 200,000 kits since 2018 using Southwest aircraft seat leather.

Southwest will mark the milestone anniversary through several events and showcases this year. At Employee events earlier this year, Eichinger wore custom-created outfits designed by Magpies & Peacocks, featuring upcycled Southwest Airlines® aircraft seat leather. In March, Southwest invited Wearsos to participate in Luck Reunion, a festival at Willie Nelson's "Luck, TX" ranch, where two artisans from Costa Rica joined Wearsos founders to display their upcycled creations and offered unique pieces for sale to festivalgoers. This month, Southwest will partner with Meow Wolf Denver for Absolute Rubbish: Bloom, a "trashion show" in which aircraft seat leather is incorporated into a fashion design by Kate Major and 19 other designers unveiling durable, wearable, luxurious designs curated by Meow Wolf Denver's costume designer.

Customers traveling this year also can see pieces created by Southwest Repurpose with Purpose partners at airport exhibits across the country. Exhibits at Austin and Denver are already available for viewing, and exhibits at Albany, Dallas Love Field, Houston (Hobby), Jacksonville, Nashville, and Oakland will open later this year.    

For more on the Southwest Repurpose with Purpose program, visit

Southwest Airlines Co. operates one of the world's most admired and awarded airlines, offering its one-of-a-kind value and Hospitality at 121 airports across 11 countries. Southwest took flight in 1971 to democratize the sky through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel and now carries more air travelers flying nonstop within the United States than any other airline3. Based in Dallas and famous for an Employee-first corporate Culture, Southwest maintains an unprecedented record of no involuntary furloughs or layoffs in its history. By empowering its more than 74,0004 People to deliver unparalleled Hospitality, the maverick airline cherishes a passionate loyalty among more than 137 million Customers carried in 2023. That formula for success brought industry-leading prosperity and 47 consecutive years5 of profitability for Southwest Shareholders (NYSE: LUV). Southwest leverages a unique legacy and mission to serve communities around the world including harnessing the power of its People and Purpose to put communities at the Heart of its success. Learn more by visiting As the airline with Heart, Southwest has set a goal to work toward achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Southwest has also set near-term targets and a three-pillar strategy to achieve its environmental goals. Learn more by visiting


Our net zero by 2050 goal includes Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 Category 3 emissions only and excludes any emissions associated with non-fuel products and services, such as inflight service items.


Circularity at Southwest means working towards reducing waste through maximizing the value of resources by keeping products and materials in circulation as long as possible—this includes reusing, recycling, and considering what happens to a product at the end of its lifecycle from the time that we start to source it. 


Based on U.S. Dept. of Transportation quarterly Airline Origin & Destination Survey since Q1 2021 


Fulltime-equivalent active Employees 


1973-2019 annual profitability 


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SOURCE Southwest Airlines Co.

Copyright 2024 PR Newswire

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