Fridge sharing takes off in Vienna

Vienna’s free-cycle economy just got a bit bigger - with a new scheme of ‘open fridges’ which enables people to share unwanted food - and take what they need.

Fridge sharing takes off in Vienna
One of the shared fridges. Photo: ORF screengrab

In 19 locations around the city fridges can be found in which people are invited to put food that they would otherwise throw away – and also take whatever they find in the fridge.

Vienna resident Walter Albrecht has started dropping off food at one of the fridges – including spreads and vegetables which are still fresh. The idea is a great way to make sure any food in the fridge isn’t wasted if you’re about to go on holiday, for example. Companies are also invited to donate any food or drink that would otherwise go to waste. 

The fridge project is similar to an already established and successful book sharing scheme in Vienna, where people can drop off unwanted books and take any they fancy reading.

The fridge idea was entered into an Austria-wide competition called ‘Orte des Respekts’ (Places of Respect) and was selected as regional winner in Vienna. The €2,000 prize money has enabled the team to buy new refrigerators which have been placed in offices, cafes and other public buildings. They will be maintained by an organization called foodsharing.

Andrea Beltrame, one of the brains behind the ‘Fair-Teilen’ (fair-sharing) concept, says the refrigerators are already a success: “They are being used by a wide variety of people… including students, pensioners, and single mothers on low incomes. They are probably also being used by homeless people.”

Christian Köck, one of the judges of the competition, says he’s excited about the project and plans to use the fridges himself. “There’s so much food we as a family don’t eat – because we’re going on holiday for example, so it just makes sense to drop it off at one of the fridges.”

The fridges can be found in the following locations:

1st District: BioWerkstatt, Biberstraße 22 (Open Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm).

2nd District: Salon am Park, Krakauer Straße 19 (Open Tues-Fri, 7.30am-7pm and Sat 8am-8pm).

3rd District: VHS Landstraße, Hainburgerstraße 29 (Open Mon-Fri 9am to 9pm).

4th District: Argus Fahrradbüro, Frankenberggasse 11 (Open Mon-Fri 2pm-7pm and Sat 10am-2pm)

Schikaneder, Margaretenstraße 22-24 (Open Mon-Sun 6pm-4am)

Verein M.U.T., Rechte Wienzeile 37 (Open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm).

5th District: Heavy Pedals, Am Hundsturm 1 (Open Tues-Fri 10am-1pm and 2pm-6pm).

7th District: Amtshaus Neubau, Hermanngasse 24-26 (Open Mon-Wed and Fri 6am-5.30pm)

7*Stern Kulturzentrum*Cafe, Siebensterngasse 31 (Open Tues-Sun 10am-2am)

8th District: Der Greissler unverpackt ehrlich, Albertgasse 19 (Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm and Sat 8am-6pm)

Greisslerei 8, Strozzigasse 27 (Open Tues-Thurs 8am-7pm, Fri 9am-12pm)

10th District: Private residence, Köglergasse 11 (garage) – opening hours to be agreed

11th District: Private residence, Sedlitzkygasse 14 – opening hours to be agreed

14th District: R.U.S.Z, Lützowgasse 12-14 (Open Mon & Wed 9am-5pm, Tues & Thurs 9am-7pm, Fri 8am-1pm)

15th District: Verein Login, Weiglgasse 19 (Open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm)

17th District: Zur Allee, Schwarzenbergallee 40, Open 24/7

Das Jetzt, Parhamerplatz 16 (Open Mon-Sat 6pm-4am, Sun 6pm-2am)

22nd District: VHS Donaustadt, Bernoullistrasse 1 (Open Mon-Thurs 9am-7.30pm, Fri 9am-7pm)

For members


Austrian traditions: How to celebrate St. Martin’s Day in Austria

Austrians celebrate St. Martin's Day, also known as Martinstag, even if it is not an official bank holiday. From traditional food to parades, here's how to enjoy the day.

Austrian traditions: How to celebrate St. Martin's Day in Austria

Austria is a very catholic country and several important dates for the church are official bank holidays. However, even the dates that are not holidays are still often celebrated by the population – even if just by preparing a traditional meal.

Martinstag, or St. Martin’s Day, is one of those dates that people don’t get off from work, but still, many Austrians will commemorate every November 11th. 

Who was Saint Martin?

According to Catholic tradition, Saint Martin of Tours was a “conscientious objector who wanted to be a monk; a monk who was manoeuvred into being a bishop; a bishop who fought paganism as well as pleaded for mercy to heretics”. 

As the legend goes, Saint Martin, a Roman soldier, gave a beggar half his red cloak to protect him during a snowstorm. 

READ ALSO: Five things you will find in (almost) every Austrian home

Through this good deed, Saint Martin is considered the patron saint of travellers and the poor and is seen as an example to children to share and be giving.

One legend has it that he hid in a goose stall when he was summoned by the church to become a bishop, as he felt unworthy. But the geese cackled so loudly that Martin was found – and now geese are eaten on his name day.

How is the date celebrated?

The main festivities revolve around the evening meal; traditionally, Martinigansl goose often served with cabbage and dumplings.

Mid-November was the time of year when farmers completed their autumn wheat seeding and slaughtered the fattened cattle before the winter.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: How do Austria’s public holidays stack up against the rest of Europe?

But across Austria, St Martin’s Day, and the weeks leading up to it, is marked by eating Martinigansl – roasted goose served with aromatic chestnuts, red cabbage and fluffy bread dumplings. The meal is just as important for some people as Easter and Christmas dinners.

Traditionally, the day is also the occasion for naming the year’s new wine. Therefore, it has special significance for the wine regions and villages in Burgenland around Lake Neusiedl.

Where can I try the traditional meal?

If you’re planning to try Martinigansl in Vienna, the Kurier newspaper recommends Rudi’s Beisl in the 5th district. Their goose is served with red cabbage, white cabbage and potato or bread dumplings for €29.90.

If you don’t eat meat, you could try the ‘goose’ at Cafe Harvest, Vienna’s second district. It’s made from soy fillets and served along with red cabbage and potato dumplings. It’s already available for €17.80.

READ ALSO: Vienna Christmas Markets: Here are the dates and locations for 2022

A goose broth with baked Kaiserschöberl croutons is followed by free-range goose breast with goose praline, red cabbage, and Waldviertel dumplings. Dessert is a sweet baked apple served with gingerbread foam. 


The St. Martins procession

In parts of Austria, children celebrate Martinstag by carrying paper lanterns they have made in school in an evening procession. In some places, the lantern procession ends with a Martinsfeuer (bonfire).

“Der Laternenumzug”, or lantern procession, is an annual celebration in honour of St. Martin’s Day. 

However, while St. Martin’s Day is an occasion celebrated by Catholics across Europe, including the UK, this children’s tradition seems to only be commonplace in German-speaking regions (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and some areas of Belgium, Italy and Poland).

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Der Laternenumzug

The procession is usually organised through local kindergartens and schools, and the children themselves often make the lanterns during their classes. The children are often accompanied by a man dressed as St. Martin in his iconic red cloak.