Martina Wolf-Kuntner

Ho&Ruck is a socio-economic business that restores, repairs and resells used items and helps jobseekers prepare for a new career. 

A socio-economic business that lives by the philosophy of reuse – what motivated you to get involved with sustainability and the circular economy 40 years ago?

Back then, 40 years ago, sustainability and the circular economy were neither major social issues nor standing concepts. The idea of turning furniture and household goods that their owners no longer need into a business was born out of Horuck’s founding question: How can we offer people who urgently need a 2nd chance this 2nd chance? And this despite the challenges they were currently facing in their lives, at the time primarily unemployment due to homelessness, addiction, imprisonment and debt.

Ho&Ruck doesn’t just give goods a second chance – it also gives people a second chance, as one of Ho&Ruck’s slogans is „Work as opportunity“. You create jobs and support those who have difficulties to find opportunities on the job market. How did the idea of turning Ho&Ruck not only into a movement for sustainability, but also into a turning point for people, come about?

This concern gave rise to what is now known as the „social economy“: The combination of temporary jobs – up to one year in our case – coupled with advice and training. And all this with the aim of creating good conditions for a subsequent permanent employment relationship in the regular labor market.

In this way, our two concerns have coincided with two social requirements: Second opportunities for people who can use these opportunities to shape their lives in a positive way, and second opportunities for well-preserved items that would otherwise end up as waste. We could not have imagined in our early days that this concept would prove so successful – and that it would be so much needed in the long term (as demonstrated by the 200 or so social enterprises in Austria).

This year Ho&Ruck celebrated its 40th anniversary. Do you see a difference in terms of society’s acceptance and support over time? In which direction is awareness of sustainability developing?

Yes, the difference is clearly noticeable. Awareness of sustainability has reached the center of society.

There are many social reasons for this. 40 years ago, the green movement – including the party political movement – was still in its infancy. In the meantime, these actors have done a lot of awareness-raising work. Climate change, which has become an increasingly widespread topic in the last decade, is also causing growing concern and willingness to act. Added to this is the pressure for sustainable business practices that has been created and intensified in the meantime, which is being contributed to by legal regulations. Forty years ago, buying second-hand goods was a sign of poverty or a signal from socially critical fringe groups. Things are very different today. Today, reusing and recycling is „hip“ and second-hand is chic.

Green Filming Tirol – What opportunities and possibilities do you see for Tyrolean companies in connection with green filming?

Any engagement with the topics of sustainability and the circular economy is a win-win situation for people and companies. We all know that „things can’t go on like this“, we have to rethink. This is not about morally underpinned rules or bans. It’s about the fact that we all realize: We want something other than constant consumption. Faster, bigger and more is not a suitable recipe for greater satisfaction and happiness. On the other hand, consideration, prudence and solidarity towards people and our nature and environment offer experiences that contribute to well-being in a satisfying, touching and more sustainable way.

Your green tip – What can each of us do to make consumption more sustainable?

One way to make our everyday consumption more sustainable is to take small steps: Starting right where you are and acting SOMETHING more consistently environmentally friendly step by step. If we act just 1% less harmful to the environment every day, that adds up wonderfully over the course of a year.

Martina Wolf-Kuntner
CEO Ho&Ruck
Haller Straße 43
6020 Innsbruck
Tel.: +54 512 267731 50