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Khp Hutstiel Character

Mushrooms, coffee and climate change: neubau eyewear met up with sustainable entrepreneurs Hut & Stiel

neubau eyewear interviews Austrian zero-waste company Hut & Stiel on how they came to pioneer a local movement.

Most of us know the basic facts of cli­mate change; we’re aware now of its process and of our (major) role insti­gat­ing its accel­er­a­to­ry force. One of the biggest fac­tors pulling us deep­er into this cli­mate cri­sis comes from food waste. Accord­ing to the U.N. Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tion, 30 per­cent of food is wast­ed glob­al­ly across the sup­ply chain, con­tribut­ing to 8 per­cent of total glob­al green­house gas emis­sions.” In fact, if food waste were a coun­try, it would come in third after the Unit­ed States and Chi­na in terms of its impact on glob­al warm­ing”. But, there is hope: We can work towards change on a local lev­el, as Vien­na-based Hut & Stiel have proven. 

Vien­na is one of the most sus­tain­able cities in Europe, rank­ing fifth among one hun­dred oth­ers. The city is made up of 23 dis­tinct dis­tricts, all of which have been struc­tured to sup­port & main­tain their nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment. Each neigh­bor­hood plays host to a vari­ety of urban parks, com­mu­ni­ty gar­dens, eth­i­cal cloth­ing stores & organ­ic co-ops. The 7th dis­trict, Neubau, of which we’ve paid homage to by name, is arguably one of the most dis­tin­guish­ably eco-focused. Street art pro­mot­ing eco-activism lines the walls, art gal­leries boast pro­gres­sive imagery and 3rd wave cof­fee hous­es lit­er­al­ly keep the locals going. 

There are many thriv­ing sus­tain­able busi­ness­es in Vien­na, but Neubau offers a par­tic­u­lar­ly fer­tile ground for inno­v­a­tive & sus­tain­able ideas. As the mak­ers of Hut & Stiel described to us, neubau is a cre­ative hub where inno­va­tors meet oth­er cre­atives, to share & dis­cuss their visions & ideas” with­out judgment.

Khp Hutstiel Emotions 6

Begin­ning as a sim­ple yet impas­sioned con­ver­sa­tion between friends, Hut & Stiel, a zero waste com­pa­ny based in Vien­na, has now evolved into a dis­tin­guished busi­ness. After attend­ing a com­pelling uni­ver­si­ty sem­i­nar on sus­tain­able busi­ness, Manuel Born­baum & Flo­ri­an Hofer felt impas­sioned to build one of their own. They looked to their pro­fes­sors for inspi­ra­tion – those who empha­sized the neces­si­ties of build­ing, design­ing and con­tribut­ing to a sus­tain­able future and decid­ed to put their heads togeth­er, using what­ev­er they had avail­able. The result? A self-suf­fi­cient, envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious and over­all, acces­si­ble business. 

As they had made their base the city of cof­fee cul­ture’, it was only nat­ur­al that the pair would grav­i­tate towards cof­fee as a key ingre­di­ent for an evolv­ing busi­ness. Per­haps less obvi­ous, was their deci­sion to grow mush­rooms, using the cof­fee as com­post. Deli­cious, healthy, rel­a­tive­ly self-suf­fi­cient and afford­able, mush­rooms & cof­fee were the per­fect com­bi­na­tion to form the local­ly pro­duced, sus­tain­able busi­ness that is Hut & Stiel.
We spoke to this hard-work­ing duo to learn more about this and the ways in which we can all help to cre­ate a more sus­tain­able future.

How was Hut & Stiel born and what were the strug­gles you had to over­come to get to where you are today? 


Hut & Stiel was born in and after a Uni­ver­si­ty Sem­i­nar called Garage” which was sup­posed to bring togeth­er stu­dents from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines in order to cre­ate sus­tain­able busi­ness ideas. The idea of grow­ing mush­rooms on cof­fee grounds unfor­tu­nate­ly wasn’t devel­oped by us, but there was nobody doing it in the ger­man speak­ing coun­tries so we were hooked by the idea of found­ing a Cof­fee-Mush­room judg­ment in Vien­na, the city of cof­fee house culture. 

So after a one year peri­od of plan­ning the two of us final­ly made the deci­sion that we real­ly want to try this crazy idea in real life (this was 2015) and start­ed find­ing a right place for it. Look­ing back­judg­ment find­ing the right place was also the hard­est part of all, nobody want­ed to have two mush­room grow­ing stu­dents in their base­ments. So in the end we had to rent a pret­ty messed up place and were forced to invest a lot of time and mon­ey towards ren­o­va­tion until we final­ly were able to actu­al­ly Start-Up”.

Khp Hutstiel Emotions 4

Since start­ing your busi­ness, how have you changed to have a more sus­tain­able approach in your day to day?

I’d say we’ve already had a sus­tain­able lifestyle before we found­ed Hut & Stiel, espe­cial­ly con­cern­ing food. Our whole team is aware of the resource con­sum­ing and envi­ron­men­tal­ly unfriend­ly prac­tices espe­cial­ly in big scale agri­cul­ture and with Hut & Stiel we want to try out some­thing com­plete­ly new and show the world (or at least Aus­tria) that it’s pos­si­ble to real­ly change some­thing – even as a small grass­roots movement/​company. Since we’ve had Hut & Stiel we for sure have entered into some kind of sus­tain­abil­i­ty and food bub­ble” which led to an even more sus­tain­able lifestyle, sim­ply because we met so many oth­er inter­est­ing peo­ple with great projects. Also, all of our veg­etable kitchen waste is now eat­en by worms in our styl­ish worm­box from www​.wurmk​iste​.at now. That’s one good day to day life example! 

If there were no finan­cial lim­its, what steps would you take to get your ideas to the next level? 

We would spend lots of mon­ey on rais­ing aware­ness on sus­tain­able food, not only mush­rooms, to real­ly cre­ate a mas­sive impact by reduc­ing the CO2 out­put by a switch in the eat­ing habits of the peo­ple. We would start projects and pro­grams with schools and uni­ver­si­ties and we maybe would devel­op a kind of fran­chise sys­tem teach­ing oth­er peo­ple in oth­er cities on how to grow mush­rooms by using cof­fee grounds and spread­ing our sto­ry around the globe. 

How can we city-dwellers grow clos­er to nature? 

That’s a good one. I think in Vien­na just as in every oth­er city in Aus­tria we are real­ly lucky. We have pure nature (eg. Lainz­er Tier­garten or Nation­al­park Donauauen) with­in less than 45 min­utes from the city cen­ter. So, we have the pos­si­bil­i­ty to spend time in nature every day if we want. I think if we real­ly want to grow clos­er to nature we have to dra­mat­i­cal­ly change our every­day life habits: reduce work & screen time, includ­ing mobile phones, and just slow down in gen­er­al. Just by doing this, we can come into clos­er con­tact with nature with­out actu­al­ly doing any­thing directly! 

Find out more about Hut & Stiel in our col­lab­o­ra­tive video por­tray­ing their won­der­ful work

27 May 2019 · neubau eyewear