Blog Post B – Reflection & System Design

Our design for the caddie liner in Assessment A aimed to employ the different skill sets of each group member in order to create a comprehensive design. With creation of a poster, video and the caddie design itself, we aimed to reach a broad audience. Utilising our group charter, which highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each member, we were able to combine skills to foster a comprehensive design skills. Room for improvement lies in team communication and organisation and these aspects are being addressed for emphasis within the group charter.

Different design disciplines each offer insights that help to create a comprehensive solution to complex problems such as organic waste management. As discussed by Ulrich, “critical employment of boundary judgements, a concept that has already proven both its critical significance and heuristic power,” (Ulrich, 2000) otherwise known as CHS, is a method of filtering focus. Just as the questions of the CHS direct our focus to specific aspects of a complex problem, I believe the background of each designer does the same. For example, Visual Communications students will see solutions to organic waste management through the filter of graphic design, perhaps responding with branding and marketing strategies to change public attitude. In contrast, Product Design students may see solutions through implementation of newly developed objects to encourage involvement in beneficial practices. As each designer sees problems and solutions through their own specific ‘lens’ (influenced by personal experience, their discipline and various other factors,) combining insights is highly beneficial in creating a comprehensive understanding of issues as complex as waste management as well as potential solutions. Another aspect to this is the ability of designers to critically analyse each other’s work in ways that non-designers may not be able to. Ulrich also discusses issues with personal bias and inability for designers to critique their own work accurately, which can be remedied with a multi-disciplinary approach.

Design thinking should be considered integral to problem solving within complex systems. IDEO’s website states “attempting to solve wicked problems, creative thinkers must design systems that influence people’s behaviour on a mass scale. Every ecosystem is comprised of both micro and macro elements, and when any element gets out of whack, the rest of the system suffers.” (IDEO, 2017) With reference to our subject, the caddy liner can be seen as a micro element, whilst an example of a macro element might be the lack of understanding around organic waste disposal. “Designing Systems at Scale” by Fred Dust and Ilya Prokopoff mentions the interaction between “Mission Pie,” a cafe in San Francisco and “Pie Ranch,” a local acreage. Pie Ranch supplies the cafe with its produce while encouraging workers to sample goods and participate in cultivation. This connection emphasises the importance of the individual, reinforcing their impact and giving them a feeling of worth and power within the larger system.

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(Pie Ranch, 2017) Pie Ranch depicts a sense of community within a system through fundraising and community events.

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(Mission Pie, 2015) Recognises their role within the larger system of food and consumption.

“As both Mission Pie and Pie Ranch have found, the simple task of showing people where their food comes from and pointing to the impact of industrialized farming touches off all sorts of big system challenges, from obesity and education to sustainability and personal food-related attitudes and behaviours.”

(Dust & Prokopoff, 2009) 

The role of creatives in system design lies in their analysis and integration of human experience. Dust and Prokopoff highlight “life is complex, and as designers, business people and other creative thinkers, we must resist both the seduction of simplicity and the safety of Byzantine networks that allow good ideas to fade and humans to be lost or forgotten.” (Dust & Prokopoff, 2009) Designers are crucial to creating systems that consider many aspects of human experience, combining practicality with usability and aesthetics. Reinforcing the importance of the user, Beder states, “A common reaction to the litany of problems attributed to technologies is to argue that the problem is not so much in the technology but in how it is used or abused.” (Beder, 1994) Beder’s essay speaks of the designer’s role in keeping up with the ever-changing social climate, particularly in reference to human interaction with technology. Social, environmental and economical factors are constantly changing, therefore systems and technology (or the individual’s interaction to these) must constantly adapt. This point is crucial in understanding the importance of the designer, as we must use our skills of analysis, problem solving and innovation to constantly respond to changing societal conditions.

Beder, S. 1994, ‘The Role of Technology in Sustainable Development’, Technology and Society, vol. 13, no. 4 pp. 14-9.

Dust, F & Prokopoff, I. 2009, Designing Systems at Scale IDEO, viewed 9 May 2017, <http://5a5f89b8e10a225a44ac-ccbed124c38c4f7a3066210c073e7d55.r9.cf1.rackcdn.com/files/pdfs/news/Rotman_SAS_IDEO_Winter09.pdf>.

IDEO 2017, Designing Systems at Scale, viewed 9 May 2017, <https://www.ideo.com/news/designing-systems-at-scale/>.

Mission Pie 2015, Our Values, viewed 9 May 2017, <http://missionpie.com/our-values/>.

Pie Ranch 2017, Our Programs, viewed 9 May 2017, <http://www.pieranch.org/>.

Ulrich, W. 2000, ‘Reflective Practice in the Civil Society: The contribution of critically systemic thinking’, Reflective Practice, pp. 247-68.

Blog Post A : Organic waste audit

Understanding our individual role within the larger problem of waste management in Australia is crucial in implementing a lasting and worthwhile change. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have parents that were very conscious of the environment, reusing items & recycling when possible.  Until now, I never really thought about the impact of organic waste on a large scale, with 6.63Mt from a total of 14Mt of organic waste ending up in landfill in 2010-11. (National Organic Waste Profile, 2013)

In conducting my own organic waste audit, I saw much of the waste being used in other ways. The diagram below shows the outcomes of my organic waste for the day.  FullSizeRender.jpg

As a result of analysing my organic waste, I noticed there was less than I expected, as I eat a diet rich in fresh food. I was confused by this until I realised that this was a result of buying mostly pre-packaged food.

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(GroceryCop, 2017)

Shown above is a product I buy frequently from Coles. As the vegetables are already pre-cut and pre-washed, there is no necessary preparation required. This convenience for the customer however, also removes them from the process of disposing of the organic waste. To make these packs, the vegetables must be washed (producing water waste,)  and the scraps from the zucchini, capsicum and carrots must be disposed of (organic waste.)

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Turner highlighted the problem with this removed system of food processing in her essay. In order for individuals to see themselves as important, and capable of producing change they must see themselves as part of a larger system. Above is my audit of one pack of strawberries.

“how the interconnectedness, bodily embeddedness and greater ecological awareness encouraged by engagement with food waste can be capitalised on and extended to people with no history or experience in managing their own food waste” (Turner, 2014)

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Another issue is the plastic packaging that these pre-prepared goods are packed in. In 2015, a petition was conducted to call supermarkets accountable for the amount of unnecessary packaging used on fresh foods. (Law, 2015) Panelists on the video linked discuss the irony of organic food packed in plastic, but also the waste associated with customers who are unable to choose the amount of food they need (and will use) due to pre-packaged, multi-packs.

The EPA conducted an analysis on supermarket waste in 2015 and found plastic wrapping constituted an average of one tonne per supermarket, per year. (Cormack, 2017) Cormack’s video on this page also depicts that consumers may not be given the choice of unpackaged goods.

Turner’s reference to FoodWise is again indicative of the importance of understanding the cycle of waste production and processing. The website contains not only facts and information, but interactive videos for adults and children. This is important in creating individuals who process their waste effectively but also buy more sustainably.

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Understanding is key to change and therefore making the entire process of food production, consumption, and waste management would create a beneficial change. At the ISF book launch, the menu was indicative of this understanding and consideration to sustainability. As the food was locally sourced and vegan, waste via transportation and production was reduced.

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References

Cormack, L. 2017, ‘Australian supermarkets lagging on efforts to reduce plastic packaging’, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 4 April, <http://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/australian-supermarkets-lagging-on-efforts-to-reduce-plastic-packaging-20170403-gvcwop.html>.

Foodwise 2017, Do Something, viewed 1 April 2017, <http://www.foodwise.com.au/foodwaste/food-waste-fast-facts/foodwise-articles/composting-2/>.

GroceryCop 2017, Coles Fresh Australian Vegetable Stir Fry Mix Prepacked  350g, viewed 1 April 2017, <http://www.grocerycop.com.au/products/26825/coles-fresh-australian-vegetable-stir-fry-mix-prepacked-350g&gt;.

Law, J. 2015, ‘Customers up in arms about excessive packaging’, news.com.au, viewed 4 April, <http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/customers-up-in-arms-about-excessive-packaging/news-story/21863691c4bf979489bdafd3d32a2d21>.

National organic waste profile 2013, Department of the Environment and Energy, Australian Government, viewed 1 April 2017, <http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/nwp/reporting/organic-waste>.

Organic Waste 2017, EPA, viewed 4 April 2017, <http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/organic-waste.htm>.

Ritchie, M. 2016, ‘State of Waste 2016 – current and future Australian trends’, MRA Consulting Group, viewed 1 April <https://blog.mraconsulting.com.au/2016/04/20/state-of-waste-2016-current-and-future-australian-trends/>.

Turner, B. 2014, ‘Food waste, intimacy and compost: The stirrings of a new ecology?’, vol. 11, no. 1, <http://scan.net.au/scn/journal/vol11number1/Bethaney-Turner.html>.