Every four years, the 737s airplanes at Southwest Airlines see an interior upgrade. As much as possible, these items are recycled to avoid a landfill. Such is the case with their iconic blue leather seats. Some of these chairs are sent to the CATIE Turrialba campus, where the Repurpose with Purpose workshop is located.

The CATIE workshop is a 1.5 year training program that teaches Costa Ricans living in rural communities how to use the upcycled leather to create goods, such as handbags or coin purses. These sewing and stitching skills that they learn in the program gives them the means to start a business or bring in extra money – something that can be difficult to do in rural Costa Rica.

If you visit the CATIE campus, you can go to the workshop where they have their goods for sale. Each item is tagged with the creators name and price. 100% of the purchase goes to the individual that made the product.

This program is one of many that CATIE has created that we’re immensley proud of. It has a direct benefit to our community and they have done an incredible amount of work so far, including using 34 tons of Southwest Airlines leather from 12,000 seats, and hosting 4 workshops.


To get to the workshop, enter the CATIE campus in Turrialba and if asked at the gate, let them know you’re visiting the Southwest building – they’ll let you through. If they don’t give you directions, you can follow the route using this Google Map pin.


More Information

More information on the Repurpose with Purpose program:

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