Delta upcycles aircraft seat covers into fashionable bags

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials, which would otherwise go to landfill, into new products or materials of better quality. Companies like Tierra Ideas in the U.S and WornAgain (slogan: “Every product has got a story to tell”) in the UK work with large corporations to create fashionable upcycled products. The benefits are three-fold: waste is recycled, companies add an eco-friendly touch to their brands, and many consumers like the story behind the upcycled product. 

Tierra Ideas  just announced its new 2010 ‘Aero’ bags collection in partnership with Delta Air Lines. Delta has donated worn and retired seat covers, blankets and curtains from its aircraft as well as from all Northwest aircraft that were refurbished when Delta acquired Northwest in 2008. After separating the fabrics by pattern (frequent fliers will recognize the different Northwest and Delta patterns) Tierra Ideas has turned them into messenger bags (price: USD219), laptop sleeves (USD55), and duffle bags (USD62). 

Tierra Ideas says the covers they receive are in excellent condition, as FAA regulations state that seat covers can not be used after 9 washings because they loose their fire retardant quality. So far, Delta has donated 5,873 pounds (about 2,500 kg) of fabric from an estimated 20,000 seat covers. 

In 2008, Virgin Atlantic teamed up with Worn Again to produce 2,000 limited-edition bags using materials reclaimed from approximately 1,000 Virgin Atlantic economy class seat covers. Virgin Atlantic donated the fabric to Worn Again after a refit of its cabins. The aptly named ‘Worn Again Virgin’ line included two handbags, a messenger bag and a toiletry case, all in various Virgin Atlantic seat fabrics. Prices ranged from GBP25 to GBP65 and each Worn Again Virgin bag came with an ingredient label that listed all the materials used to make the bags. Virgin Atlantic said of their collaboration with Worn Again: “This is a fun and creative way to recycle our waste and allow people to own a little piece of Virgin Atlantic history.” 

For its latest collection, called ‘Bon Voyage!’, Worn Again used decommissioned Eurostar uniforms and retired Virgin hot air balloons to make a range of laptop bags, Oyster card holders and hoodies.

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