Need a gift for an aviation geek or just some really nice environmentally responsible gear?
Bags made from old airline seats may do the trick.
When Alaska Airlines decided to replace the seat covers on planes flown by its sister carrier, Horizon Air, sending the old leather to the landfill seemed too wasteful.
Instead, the airline turned to Portland, Ore.-based Looptworks, a company that upcycles unwanted materials into limited edition, hand-made products, for a solution.
Looptworks already makes a Southwest Luv Seat line of bags and accessories that use that the carrier’s old seat leather, as well as a line made from motorcycle jacket leather, so turning 4,000 Horizon Air leather seat covers into useful items wasn’t a big challenge.
Now there’s the Alaska Airlines Carry-On Collection, which includes a wallet ($65), laptop sleeve ($120), tote ($160), crossbody bag ($140) and a messenger bag ($230)
The leather is cleaned and prepped in partnership with an Oregon non-profit that employs and trains adults with disabilities and then is passed on to Northwest craftspeople who do their magic.
Alaska and Southwest aren’t alone in exploring upcycling.
Clothing made from the surplus leather and fabric from Hawaiian Airlines seats was on exhibit recently during Honolulu Fashion Week, there’s a line of bags made from recycled JetBlue crewmember uniforms, and Skyebags makes a wallet and a tote bag from reclaimed Delta Air Line seat leather.
(My story about upcycling old airline seats first appeared on USA TODAY in a slightly different version.)