House & Home

10 simple ways to live sustainably in Austria

Discover how you can make your Austrian life greener with our simple guide to 10 everyday ways to live sustainably in Austria.

Live sustainably Austria

By Christian Lapper

Updated 8-1-2024

If you’re an expat setting up home in Austria, living sustainably might not be at the top of your priority list. However, if you’re an environmentally-minded expat, you might be interested to know that living greener in Austria is easier than you might have imagined. Our guide looks at the many everyday ways you can live more sustainably in Austria, from commuting to grocery shopping.

1. Switch to green energy

Can living more sustainably in Austria be as easy as simply flicking a switch in the comfort of your own home? Well, it could be if you sign up for the right green energy options for your new place in the country. Thankfully, Austria offers plenty of choices when it comes to picking a green energy supplier.

As of 2021, renewable resources make up an impressive 36.4% of Austria’s total energy share. Hydroelectricity is the country’s largest renewable resource, but Austria also produces energy from wind and biomass. This makes it easier than ever to plug into green energy sources at home.

Hydroelectric dam in Austria

If you are new in town, setting up your home utilities is probably one of the first things you need to do after arriving in Austria. When it comes to choosing the right green options for your home, you have plenty of options in Austria, so it pays to shop around for the best deal. As you might expect, there is an ever-growing list of energy companies that offer green power in your home. Some only offer green energy, making your decision even easier. Energy providers in Austria include:

  • AAE Naturstrom
  • aWATTar
  • Salzburg AG

2. Stay grounded

There are a whole host of ways to live more sustainably in Austria, from going vegan to cutting down your car usage. However, if you are a frequent flyer, you could be undoing all your good work with a simple flight. That’s according to the UN’s civil aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization. The ICAO estimates that a single economy-class return flight from London to New York emits the equivalent CO2 per passenger as an average resident of Ghana emits in an entire year. That might be shocking, but it doesn’t have to be like this if you are living in Austria.

Regional train in the mountains in Austria

Austria is located at the heart of central Europe, bordered by a staggering eight countries, including Italy, Germany, and Hungary. This means that it is perfectly placed to become a base for all those excellent short breaks through central Europe. What’s more, you can get to virtually anywhere in Europe by train. Whether you’re heading to Lake Balaton in the east, Amsterdam or Copenhagen in the north, or French wine country in the west, everywhere is easily accessible without ever leaving the ground. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to check and book all your transport options for your next trip away, visit Omio and see which method works best for you.

3. Shop thriftily

When moving into a new home, you’ll probably be tempted to head straight to your nearest furniture or homewares store and stock up on everything you need there and then. However, if you want to live sustainably in Austria, you may want to limit these types of purchases. Flat-pack fixes might be the quickest and easiest way to set up your new home, but they aren’t the greenest. These items are typically mass-produced, with their production emitting high levels of carbon through their manufacture and transportation. But if you’re a new arrival in Austria, how can you avoid these pitfalls when trying to live greener?

Vienna flea market

If you’re looking to avoid the mass-produced options, there are plenty of other ways you can furnish your new home in Austria. Firstly, be sure to search online for any local furniture makers as these will likely be sourced from more sustainable means. You can also check out your secondhand options. Sometimes, you’ll be able to find some great bargains on local message boards and Facebook pages, too. Alternatively, find your nearest flea market. These can be treasure-troves for all manner of used furniture and other goods. You never know what you’ll come across, so be prepared to get there early and find the best bargains.

4. Download the right apps

It can sometimes feel like modern life is simply a procession of different smartphone apps. Whether you’re video chatting with loved ones, shopping online for groceries or clothing, or even booking train tickets for your next European adventure, it never stops. But what if we told you that all those apps could actually help you live more sustainably in Austria? Downloading the right apps onto your phone can be a great first step to a greener life. However, as with everything else on this list, even the greenest app out there will only make a difference if you actually use it.

Woman using her phone in Vienna

To help you get started, here are our favorite apps for living sustainably in Austria:

  • Cut down on food waste in your local community by downloading Too Good To Go. The app connects you to nearby cafés, bakeries, and more, letting you save delicious treats from the trash.
  • Want to tackle your carbon footprint and plant a tree with every search you make? Download Ecosia today and your own personal tree counter will keep you posted on how much you’ve been searching.
  • If you are planning a trip around Austria, leave the car at home and use the excellent local public transit system. You can download OBB’s Wegfinder app and travel with confidence wherever you’re heading.

For more information on Austrian apps and our suggestions for what you should be downloading, read our guide to the top 10 Austrian apps.

5. Leave the car at home

Thinking about getting behind the wheel of your car for that commute to the office or trip to your local supermarket? Think again. One of the best ways to live sustainably in Austria is to reassess your everyday car use. Transport is one of the biggest contributors to European carbon emissions, including freight and private vehicle use. Cutting down the amount you use your car is a healthy way to reduce your carbon footprint. However, you don’t need to invest in the latest Tesla to boost your green credentials. There are plenty of ways to do this, which start with leaving the car at home.

Family cycling through Austria

Compared to some of its European neighbors, Austria is a relatively small country. This makes it nice and easy to move around using the efficient Austrian public transport system, which connects the country through trains, trams, metros, and buses. However, if you don’t feel like pouring onto the metro, or you simply feel like getting some fresh air on your journey, then why not head out on two wheels? Frequent riders will probably prefer having their own wheels. However, if you want more flexibility, why not sign up for one of the many mobility-sharing schemes in the country? This will give you the option of hiring a bike or even an e-scooter for your journey.

6. Go paperless with your banking

As an expat, one of the first things you will need to do when you arrive in Austria is open a bank account. Not only will this help you set up all those essential payments for your new home – such as utilities and home internet – but it will also make your day-to-day life in Austria that little bit easier. Whether you’re buying the next round of Schnapps for your new coworkers, or treating the whole family to Schnitzel, you’ll find it much easier with a local bank account. But if you’re signing up for an Austrian bank account, how can you make it greener?

Mobile bank N26 in Austria

One way is to sign up with a mobile bank. Having all your banking needs met on an easy-to-use app can make a significant dent in the amount of unwanted mail you receive from your bank. There are plenty of Austrian banks that offer mobile services, including many of the biggest names. However, if you’re thinking of going mobile, why not consider a completely mobile bank? N26 is a German mobile bank that offers a range of services. You can download the English-speaking N26 app to set up your international IBAN and access their range of innovative services.

7. Compost at home

Just finished cooking one of these great Austrian recipes for your friends? Or perhaps you’ve whipped up some quick treats for your little ones? Whatever you’ve been doing in the kitchen, what are you going to do with all those food scraps? You’ll probably be tempted to simply throw them in the trash, but you might want to reconsider. After all, if you are trying to live sustainably in Austria, composting all that food waste is a great start.

Food composting

Luckily, composting food is really easy in Austria. As our guide to recycling in Austria explains, there is a food composting system that operates throughout the country. This is collected regularly from your home by local authorities. However, if you really want to live green, then you’ll probably want to compost at home. There are two main ways to do this: worm bins and bokashi. The bokashi system includes microbes while the worm bins involve, well, lots of worms. It doesn’t matter how big your garden is, either. Your composting bin can live on the kitchen countertop, the balcony, or in the back yard. Before you know it, you’ll have great, homemade compost to help your plants and flowers thrive.

8. Sign up for a recipe kit

Speaking of leftovers, food waste is a growing concern when it comes to living sustainably in Austria. According to estimates, Austrians throw away around 20% of all the food they buy. This wastage equates to around €1 billion every single year. Not only is this is a waste of food and money, but it also wastes the significant amount of resources that go into transporting the food from the field to the fridge. But while tackling food waste sounds simple, in practice, it’s easier said than done. However, there are plenty of options to smooth the process.

Kids baking

One way to easily do this is to sign up for a recipe kit service. These meal boxes deliver fresh, innovative ingredients straight to your door. All you need to do is simply choose your recipes beforehand and get ready to create restaurant-quality meals for friends and family in your own kitchen. Meals are typically fresh and engaging, and the portion sizes will ensure that you cut down on all that unwanted food waste. If this sounds appetizing, there are a few meal box options in Austria, including HelloFresh, Marley Spoon, and others that enable you to reduce food waste and live a greener life.

9. Shop local

One of the underrated pleasures of expat life is simply visiting your local grocery store and browsing the shelves and aisles crammed with all manner of foods you might never have even seen before. However, as great as Austrian supermarkets are, have you ever considered how far all this food has actually traveled before it reaches the store? This journey is known as “food miles” and you might be surprised at just how far some of your favorites have traveled. From bananas and berries to tomatoes and tuna, many everyday essentials have journeyed from far and wide before they finally reach your kitchen. The transportation of these goods racks up vast amounts of carbon emissions – and tackling this issue is an important part of living sustainably in Austria.

Austrian food market

But how can you cut down these food miles in Austria? Well, fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can do this. The first – and the easiest – way to do this is by making different choices in the aisles. Instead of choosing the most exotic products on offer, why not choose locally-sourced goods that are in season? Another way is by shopping locally, whether at your nearest neighborhood grocery store or food market. Not only will this give you a better idea of local food options and traditions, but you may even come across a few Austrian surprises you might like to try!

10. Recycle, recycle, recycle

It might sound obvious, but one of the simplest ways you can live sustainably in Austria is by making recycling a part of your everyday life. Recycling is commonplace throughout Europe, but Austrians pride themselves on being among the continent’s top recyclers. In fact, a Euro-barometer survey found that 96% of locals recycle packaging, while 99% recycle paper. Most recycling is done by local municipalities. However, you’ll be able to recycle certain products in your nearest supermarket. For more information on this, read our guide to recycling in Austria.