Texan by Nature sat down with Megan Lee from Southwest Airlines to discuss the company’s commitment to conservation. Read about their mission, programs, and more!
“It’s as much about doing the right thing as it is about being good environmental stewards.”
What is your name and role at Southwest Airlines?
Megan Lee, Senior Manager of Community Outreach. At Southwest Airlines, we believe that Community Outreach is about connecting People and championing community. Guided by the pillars of loving People, building resilience, and living responsibly, our team uses our resources to help communities across the globe thrive.
What does Southwest Airlines do and what is Southwest Airlines’ mission?
In its 49th year of service, Southwest Airlines continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 59,000 Employees. As a leading global citizen, Southwest is committed to the triple bottom line of Performance, People, and Planet. This three-pronged commitment reinforces our focus on global citizenship and supports our Vision to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.
What does conservation or sustainability mean to Southwest Airlines?
To continue our focus on becoming a leading global citizen, as an airline it is imperative that we strive to reduce our environmental impact. To help us achieve that goal we have aggressive efforts in place to reduce resource consumption, manage solid waste, and recycle wherever possible. We are also leading the industry in our repurposing efforts and continuously seeking ways to improve our environment. It’s as much about doing the right thing as it is about being good environmental stewards.
“Our philosophy has always been based in the Golden Rule—treat others as you would like to be treated—and that extends to the responsible way in which we live and use our most precious natural resources.”
What are examples of conservation or sustainability practices that Southwest Airlines does or implements?
By improving our energy efficiency, reducing the amount of waste we generate, and working to conserve the environment in the places where we live and work, we can protect our Planet for current and future generations. Some examples include investing more than $600 million in fuel efficiency improvements, recycling more than 3,700 tons of waste in 2018 that otherwise would have gone to landfills, and maintaining our investments in nonprofit partnerships with organizations such as the Student Conservation Association and the National Forest Foundation.
Check out Southwest’s 2018 One Report for more insight on their commitment to Performance, People, and Planet.
What part do businesses like Southwest Airlines have to play in conservation in Texas and beyond?
We recognize the importance of environmental stewardship and believe it’s our responsibility to protect our planet now and for future generations. We do our part to make environmentally responsible decisions and to minimize our impact on the environment by collecting and analyzing information on things like our energy consumption, emissions, and waste generated. We use this information to continually improve the actions we take to mitigate our impacts. We set goals and use an environmental management system (EMS) and chemical management system (CMS) to help us maintain compliance with environmental regulations, minimize costs and risk, and measure our efforts to improve our environmental performance. Teamwork has always been at the Heart of Southwest, and we believe that conservation should be a collective effort as well. When it comes to promoting conservation, we reinforce our values by working with individuals and other organizations to help preserve and protect the Planet.
“Teamwork has always been at the Heart of Southwest, and we believe that conservation should be a collective effort as well.”
What is one recommendation on conservation or sustainability that you wish more people knew about or would practice?
Just because an item has served its original purpose, does not mean it needs to be discarded! Our Repurpose with Purpose program was created to help us find a way to prevent thousands of pounds of leather seat covers from going to a landfill when they were replaced on our aircraft. Today those same seat covers have turned into beautiful products like jewelry, bags, and soccer balls. While being transformed into new products, the leather has also created social and economic benefits for disadvantaged communities through therapy kits, employment, and vocational/skill training opportunities. Since 2016, this initiative has repurposed more than 1 million pounds of seat covers!
What makes Southwest Airlines Texan by Nature?
Southwest was founded in Texas and just like the State itself, we believe in being big and bold and connecting with our stakeholders to always find a better way. Our philosophy has always been based in the Golden Rule—treat others as you would like to be treated—and that extends to the responsible way in which we live and use our most precious natural resources.
What’s your favorite thing about Texas?
The People! The People of Southwest Airlines reflect the spirit, hospitality, and bold visions of Texans. We dream big and treat everyone as if they are a neighbor or a friend. At Southwest, we truly believe community is more than just a place, it is the Heart of what brings People together.
Photos provided by Southwest Airlines.
Find more conversations about conservation on our blog page.