Southwest Airlines Repurpose with Purpose Program

Repurpose with Purpose is Southwest Airlines'® award-winning global environmental sustainability initiative that upcycles aircraft seat leather, helping keep the seat leather out of landfills.

The program was founded in 2014 after Southwest updated its seat design, resulting in 43 acres of aircraft seat leather that was no longer needed. The new design included a lighter weight leather, which decreased the weight of each aircraft by up to 600 pounds thereby increasing the fuel efficiency of each flight. Today, the Repurpose with Purpose program utilizes leather acquired through ongoing aircraft renovations and retirements.

Since 2014, Southwest has donated more than $2 million and 1.4 million pounds of leather to provide employment, skills training, and other social benefits for communities.

Southwest is taking action to achieve our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as part of our Nonstop to Net Zero Plan. This includes working towards improving sustainability in our operations through sourcing, recycling, and upcycling. Repurpose with Purpose is a key component of our efforts towards improving the sustainability of our aircraft seats.

Our Partners

The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE)

Southwest® expanded the Repurpose with Purpose program to Costa Rica through its partnership with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE). CATIE is a regional center in Turrialba, Costa Rica dedicated to research and graduate education in agriculture, and the management, conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources.

Through CATIE's training program, women and men from rural communities learn to create and market products made from Southwest aircraft seat leather to help them generate financial support for their families and communities.


EcoRise is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes a new generation of leaders to design healthy, just, and thriving communities for all.

In partnership with EcoRise, Southwest expanded its Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School program to Atlanta, GA, and Austin, TX, connecting aircraft seat leather to classrooms, providing students with hands-on experiences in sustainability, creative reuse, and environmental literacy.

Help Heal Veterans

Since 1971, Help Heal Veterans has been providing therapeutic craft kits to veterans and active duty military to help them heal from the visible and invisible wounds of war through creativity. Help Heal Veterans has used Southwest® aircraft seat leather to create more than 200,000 kits since 2018.

Through Southwest’s "Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School" program in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), Help Heal Veterans invited students to design an art therapy kit which would be manufactured and distributed to thousands of military members around the country.

Magpies & Peacocks

Magpies & Peacocks is the nation's only nonprofit design house dedicated to the collection, curation, and sustainable reuse of post-consumer textiles. The nonprofit collaborates with designers and artists to create unique upcycled products using materials donated by the fashion and interior industry, costume designers, and companies like Southwest®.

Magpies & Peacocks first partnered with Southwest in 2023 for the nonprofit's "After Dark" fashion show fundraiser. Magpies & Peacocks unveiled items created with Southwest aircraft seat leather, including their Take Flight Collection of outfits and a limited-edition line of clutch bags painted by award-winning and internationally recognized Houston graffiti artist, GONZO247.

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Materials For the Arts (MFTA)

MFTA is New York City's largest creative reuse center and provides NYC arts nonprofits, public schools, and city agencies with access to free materials. They strive to keep valuable materials from entering the landfill and put these materials into the hands of arts professionals, educators and students. Southwest aircraft seat leather is shared with these organizations to be transformed into new art projects.

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Meow Wolf

In 2024, Southwest Airlines partnered with Meow Wolf Denver and Meow Wolf Grapevine on their “trashion show" events where aircraft seat leather was incorporated into fashions design by Meow Wolf Costume Designer Kate Major and Dallas artisan Jamie Kulikowski. Meow Wolf is an arts production company that creates immersive, multimedia experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms.

Metro Nashville Public Schools

Since 2021, more than 12,000 elementary, middle, and high school students have had the opportunity to create upcycled art projects with Southwest aircraft seat leather through the Visual Arts Department at Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). The seats were cleaned, deconstructed, prepared, and delivered to the schools by Nashville partner, Turnip Green Creative Reuse (TGCR). Elementary students utilize Creativity Kits and lesson plans developed by TGCR.


Nest is a nonprofit organization that supports artisan and maker communities worldwide. Through advocacy and programming, they aim to build a world of greater gender equity and economic inclusion for these communities. Through travel support from Southwest, Nest is able to connect with their US maker community to provide training and support.

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Rethreaded harnesses the power of business, community, and time to support women who have experienced human trafficking. During their 3-year program, participants gain meaningful employment, mental health services, resources, and a supportive community. Since 2012, 85% of women in Rethreaded's program have never returned to trafficking.

Rethreaded has sold over 38,000 items, generating more than $1 million in sales, since first launching their line of accessories handcrafted with Southwest® aircraft seat leather.

Turnip Green Creative Reuse

Turnip Green Creative Reuse (TGCR) fosters creativity and sustainability through reuse by connecting artisans and artists, crafters and hobbyists, educators, environmentalists, resellers, students, and others with a passion for conscious consumerism with materials otherwise destined for the landfill.

Utilizing Southwest® aircraft seat leather, TGCR has provided employment opportunities for community members, hands-on creative learning for students in Metro Nashville Public Schools, and community workshops in basic leatherworking. Additionally, these materials are available to shoppers in their Reuse Center, inspiring their creativity to take flight.


Unshattered is a 501c3 nonprofit social enterprise whose mission is to end the addiction relapse cycle by providing pathways toward economic independence and sustained sobriety.

Using donated leather from Southwest, the Possibilities Take Flight collection of sustainable travel bags was designed and handcrafted by women in recovery. 100% of your purchase supports participating women on their journey of growth and healing as they move beyond addiction.


Wearsos is a social enterprise dedicated to promoting a circular economy and empowering women artisans in Turrialba, Costa Rica through meaningful employment and educational opportunities.

Wearsos artisans transform Southwest® aircraft seat leather into high-end bags and accessories including hand-painted items highlighting the beauty of Costa Rica. The name Wearsos symbolizes the fusion of "wear" and "sostenibilidad," the Spanish word for sustainability, which embodies their core mission.

Support our Repurpose with Purpose Partners

The Southwest Airlines One Report

Explore our annual corporate social responsibility report, the Southwest Airlines One Report. This integrated citizenship report covers significant social, economic, and environmental stories, as well as data tables, and reporting frameworks, all through the lens of corporate Citizenship. Our disclosures are informed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).