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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​.wur​mkiste​.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