Green or Greenwash? Southwest’s ‘Green Plane’ Takes to the Skies

southwest plane at mccarran

Passenger airplanes may never be carbon neutral but many airlines are attempting to find ways to reduce their carbon emissions and become more environmentally-friendly. Some airline, such as Air New Zealand, have been testing alternative fuels.

Southwest Airlines, however, has decided to turn their planes green from the inside out. No, the plane isn’t made of recycled materials and it doesn’t jet around thanks to biofuel. Instead, Southwest has converted one of their Boeing 737-700’s  into a “green plane” with the hope that it will not only reduce carbon emissions but also save the company up to $10 million a year in fuel costs.

green logo southwest airlines

This “green plane” has been outfitted with a range of  eco products: the carpets are carbon neutral and 100 percent recyclable, the seats are covered with either e-Leather and IZIT Leather (manmade leather alternatives that are lighter weight and made of recycled materials), and under each seat is a re-designed life vest pouch which is smaller, lighter and more durable.

These eco-features equate to a weight reduction of about 5 pounds per seat. To the skeptical, this might not sound like much but multiply that by the number of seats and you’re looking at a big load lightening that will result in significant fuel savings and reduced emissions. (Though Jonathan Schein remains unsure we should be impressed.)

Southwest Airlines will apparently be testing the effectiveness of these modifications while the plane is flying its regular flight route between Chicago-Midway and Boston-Logan. But what do you think? Is this green, or greenwash?

Images: gTarded, Airline Reporter