Southwest Airlines Repurpose with Purpose Program
Repurpose with Purpose is our award-winning signature program that gives back to communities all over the world, helping Southwest® show our Heart for the Planet.
Through this global sustainability initiative, more than a million pounds of aircraft seat leather have been upcycled into new products. We’re proud to partner with organizations to give thousands of pounds of leather new life every year.
Since 2014, we’ve donated more than $1.3 million in grants and more than 1.4 million pounds of leather to provide employment, skills training, and other social benefits for organizations and communities.
Our Heart doesn't just give back, it gives forward. Repurpose with Purpose helps bring new opportunities to people across the world and supports Southwest’s environmental sustainability efforts.
Southwest expanded Repurpose with Purpose internationally in 2022 through its partnership with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica. CATIE is a regional center dedicated to research and graduate education in agriculture and the management, conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources. Using aircraft seat leather and cash grants from Southwest, CATIE teaches men and women from rural communities how to create and market upcycled leather products in order to generate financial support for their families and communities.
EcoRise mobilizes a new generation of leaders to design healthy, just, and thriving communities for all. They offer a range of curricula and programs for students, teachers, school districts, and partners, designed to advance environmental literacy, sustainable schools, and equitable access to green pathways. In partnership with EcoRise and Scraplanta Creative Reuse, Southwest expanded its Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School program to Atlanta, connecting aircraft seat leather to classrooms where students are learning about sustainability through the practice of creative reuse.
Help Heal Veterans is a nonprofit organization that provides free therapeutic craft kits to military service members and veterans receiving medical care. These craft kits can enhance an individual’s rehabilitation and healing process by helping to restore coordination, motor skills, and improve concentration. Since 2018, more than 200,000 kits have been made using upcycled Southwest aircraft seat leather.
Magpies & Peacocks is Houston based 501c3 non-profit design house dedicated to the collection, curation, and sustainable reuse of post-consumer textiles, to disrupt the cycle of waste in the fashion industry. They collaborate with their in-house team of designers and artists to create unique upcycled products, provide a resource library of reusable material for the creative community, and offer skill-building and sustainability education. Using donated aircraft seat leather from Southwest, Magpies & Peacocks MAKR Collective production team will transform the leather into the Take Flight Collection of chic and wearable fashion. This partnership will continue to help provide employment and skill training via Magpies & Peacocks workplace development and incubator programs.
MFTA is New York City’ 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. After connecting thousands of people to what's important in their lives through flight, Southwest's aircraft seat leather has landed at MFTA to be reconnected with the education, arts and cultural community where it will be transformed into something new through creative reuse.
In 2021, we donated 50,000 pounds of used aircraft leather seat coverings to Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to support the expansion of our Repurpose with Purpose program into the public education community for the first time ever! More than 6,000 MNPS students have created art from upcycled aircraft seat leather through this unique collaboration with the MNPS Visual Art Educators.
Nest is a nonprofit organization that supports the responsible growth and creative engagement of the artisan and maker economy to build a world of greater gender equity and economic inclusion. Through programs that support the wellbeing of artisans both in the United States and globally, Nest is bringing radical transparency and opportunity to the informal handworker community. Through travel support from Southwest, Nest is able to connect with their US maker community to provide training and support.
Rethreaded harnesses the power of business, community, and time by providing employment and wrap-around services for women who have experienced human trafficking in their social enterprise. In its three-year program, women are able to financially provide for themselves and their families through their work at Rethreaded while at the same time gaining access to mental health service services, resources, and a community that will surround them as they rethread their lives from the harm caused by human trafficking.
Turnip Green Creative Reuse (TGCR) fosters creativity and sustainability through reuse by connecting their community – including artisans, crafters, educators, students – with materials otherwise destined for the landfill. Utilizing Southwest 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 leather working. 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—where fashion meets purpose—is a social enterprise on a mission to create a brand that inspires change and creates a better future. Wearsos is dedicated to transforming lives through upcycling and providing employment opportunities for marginalized individuals, while also championing women empowerment, creating impact within communities in Costa Rica. Using donated aircraft seat leather from Southwest, the Wearsos Do Good Collection of bags and accessories is handcrafted by artisans in the heart of Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Gen Phoenix is the creator of sustainable, recycled leather and innovator of premium, circular next-gen materials. The aircraft seat leather used on Southwest aircraft is all supplied by Gen Phoenix. This company delivers high-quality circular materials, at scale, without compromise on performance, aesthetics, or luxury.
See it in action: Watch more Repurpose with Purpose stories on YouTube.
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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).