Remember those relatively cushy leather seats on Southwest Airlines’ 737-700 aircraft that gave way to slim-line seats, enabling the airline to pack an additional six seats into the cabin?

The new seats, which also can be found in some of Southwest’s 737-300 aircraft, are said to be lighter and made out of eco-friendly products.

Now comes word from the airline that Southwest didn’t just toss out all of that discarded leather, but has created a recycling program where partners in Kenya, and the U.S. would turn all of that cowhide into soccer balls and shoes, and create jobs.

The LUV Seat: Repurpose with Purpose program has Southwest donating the discarded leather in a sustainability drive to nonprofits and community groups such as SOS Children’s Villages Kenya and Life Beads Kenya, both in Kenya, and Team Lift Inc. and Looptworks in the U.S., among other groups.

One of Southwest’s partners is Alive & Kicking, which plans on turning the discarded leather into soccer balls to support education programs geared to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and preventing Malaria.

In another example, Team Lift ntends to develop a leather works’ training course at a boarding school under construction in Malawi.

Southwest views the leather-seat recycling initiative as part of a broader sustainability drive and a way to give it some street cred as a leader in corporate responsibility.

Photo Credit: Southwest is taking no-longer needed leather seat covers and is donating some of them to Alive & Kicking, which will use the leather to create soccer balls to support education programs that use sports to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and Malaria prevention. Southwest Airlines