The Dallas-based carrier asked itself, "What do you do with thousands of old leather seats?"
The answer: send them to Kenya to be turned into shoes and soccer balls.
On Tuesday, Southwest announced a new recycling project where it will donate the used leather to a non-profit in Nairobi, Kenya to use the leather to produce goods, like shoes and soccer balls, to be then given to the local community.
The airline is also partnering with a non-profit in Malawi that will develop a leather works training program to teach school kids while generating proceeds for the school
"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," said Southwest's vice president of supply chain management, Bill Tiffany.
Southwest estimates it has 43 acres of leather from its old seats. With the redesign to the environmentally-friendly Evolve seat, the airline reduced the weight of each plan by more than 600 pounds.