At Southwest Airlines, we believe in living responsibly, respecting our resources, and sharing our Heart with others—and our Repurpose with Purpose initiative is a great example of these beliefs in action. Through this initiative, we partner with like-minded organizations to upcycle, downcycle, and recycle thousands of pounds of our discarded items and materials into useful products that change lives. Since 2016, we have repurposed more than 1.1 million pounds of our aircraft seat covers through this signature program, helping to minimize our environmental footprint while maximizing our social impact.
In 2019, Southwest partnered with Balmex to create 1,500 hand-produced soccer balls made with Southwest leather seat covers. Balmex, led by Mario Ramírez Madora, is located in the Mexico municipality of Chichihualco, which was once the center of production of hand-stitched soccer balls. Balmex has been employing local families to create soccer balls for more than three decades.
Southwest’s soccer ball order provided an economic boost for the community of Chichihualco, Guerrero and the families that Balmex supports. It also provided additional income for the region at a time when the hand-produced soccer ball industry in Chichihualco is especially fragile.
Southwest engaged with three nonprofit organizations in Mexico that could utilize the soccer balls. YMCA Mexico, Save the Children, and Special Olympics Mexico were each granted an allotment of soccer balls for use in their programs that support the development of children and adolescents in Mexico. Throughout 2020 and 2021 the organizations received the soccer balls and the kids were delighted to put them to good use!
Southwest is honored that our Repurpose with Purpose initiative could support Mexico’s rich cultural heritage of artisan-made, hand-sewn soccer balls, while allowing us to upcycle our material in an impactful way – a perfect match! To learn more about Southwest’s Repurpose with Purpose initiative, visit swa.is/Repurposing.