If you’ve flown JetBlue in the last few months, you’ve certainly noticed those sharp new uniforms they’re now sporting. We’re incredibly proud of the first big refresh to our uniforms since we were founded in 2000, but as with any big wardrobe update, we were left wondering what to do with all those retired styles that still had some use in them.
While some of you may be able to take a trip to the local vintage shop or Goodwill, with uniforms coming in from more than 10,000 crewmembers, a trip to the local Salvation Army wasn’t really an option for us, so we started looking for creative ways to clear out the closet while keeping with our values. After a lot of research, and learning from some truly inspiring groups, we finally found a solution.
JetBlue Airways announced today a recycling donation of more than 18.5 tons of used clothing, uniforms and fabric to several non-profit partners including Planet Aid, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that collects and recycles worn clothing and shoes to support health, agricultural, educational, and environmental programs in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. 18.5 tons, or about 98,666 t-shirts is a lot to transport, so JetBlue partnered with Loomstate to bring it all together. Loomstate is part of the new wave of fashion houses that see beauty in creating high-end pieces from recycled materials. With their expertise in recycling fabric, JetBlue was able to find a purposeful second life for its old uniforms.
As part of JetBlue’s uniform recycling program, donated clothing items can now be worn again. Donated items were sent to eight donation centers and regulated uniform, like pilot and flight attendant uniforms, were sent to special facilities in Arizona or Massachusetts to be turned into more fabric. – sorry folks, you’re not going to find easy pilot outfits for Halloween. Those uniforms can’t just be resold so people can pretend to be a JetBlue pilot! Of the 37,000 pounds of collected textile, approximately 11,538 pounds were donated as clothing and 25,462 pounds were shredded and donated as fabric, resulting in zero pounds going to landfill.
Although flight attendants and pilots first come to mind when thinking about uniforms, there is a cadre of other uniformed crewmembers within an airline. JetBlue crewmembers, from various stations voluntarily brought in their old uniform pieces and the airline organized local pickups and deliveries to sorting centers. At these centers, pilot shirts were sent for shredding and recycling. Other pieces were packaged with donations of clothing and shoes from around the country and sent to communities in need in throughout the US, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Most of the clothing collected by Planet Aid will be given a second life. These items are bundled in Planet Aid warehouses and shipped to other countries where the demand for used clothing is high.
Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue’s head of sustainability was key to this initiative, “At JetBlue, we are conscious of the greenhouse gas emissions from our planes and the impact we create from our buildings and crewmembers. We are always thinking about saving jet fuel to reduce emissions. Yet, we should also be thinking about other ways to decrease our impact. With the introduction of our new uniforms, we sought out creative yet useful ways to save the old uniforms and fabric from landfills,”