Southwest Airlines knows a marketable trend when they see one on their Twitter and stuff. Hence their new eco-plane (well, it’s actually four years old, but it’s eco-ness is new). The aircraft’s first greeny flight was Wednesday evening, tracking a route from headquarters in Dallas up to rainy Seattle. The plane is not fueled by natural gas, like the eco-plane from Qatar; its environmental makeover is, sadly, entirely cosmetic.
The inside of the 737 was given a facelift that included 100% recycled carpeting made from a completely carbon-neutral process. The heavy, canvas life vests have been swapped out for lighter versions, and the aluminum seats have been switched out for plastic. The leather seat covers have been are now faux leather — man-made and twice as durable. These changes lighten the plane about five pounds per seat, which saves fuel in the long run. In addition, Southwest has come up with some company-wide green initiatives, such as banning Styrofoam cups and using a chemical-free engine cleaner that has zero runoff and reduces fuel burn. Plus, November 1 marks the kickoff of the airline’s new onboard recycling program. Next thing you know, the Southwest uniforms will be made exclusively out of hemp! That should totally offset the thousands of gallons of aviation fuel consumed by each flight of the “green” plane.