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​.wurm​kis​te​.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 Mai 2019 · NEUBAU EYEWEAR
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