I recently had the chance to spend a week in Austria on a media trip focused on food, wine and design. Odd combo you say? Not really. Many Austrian chefs and wine makers are looking for, and finding, ways to merge the country’s rich culinary and viticultural history with its equally rich modern design contributions, but more on that later. While in Vienna, there was a lot to appreciate in regards to thoughtful design integrated into daily life. For starters, almost every light I encountered in non-constant use situations was on a motion sensing timer, reducing the amount of time lights were on without someone in the room. Also, literally every bathroom I saw had a low-flow toilet and motion-controlled faucets. Vienna also has a city bike program similar to the one recently introduced in Paris, and an extensive network of bike paths separated from car traffic.
The capper for me came one Saturday, when we passed this woman standing at the start of a major retail street in the city center. In case your German is a little rusty, her sandwich board is advertising the merits of compact fluorescent bulbs, and announcing that later that afternoon, you can bring your old incandescent bulbs back to the same location and swap them out for compact fluorescents, for free, courtesy of IKEA. Now that’s putting your PR where your environmental practices are.