Post B: Diversity for diverse systems

Our group’s caddie design created a balance between function and form by using three identical folded paper sections that would hold up to the organic waste put inside it. We used a paper flyer and an instructional video to communicate our design. It was important for the flyer to be able to universally communicate the instructional process so visual imagery was important to successfully communicate to all groups, be it non-English speakers, dyslexics who find it difficult to read, or visual thinkers. The video engages the audience and shows the construction of the liner in real time. On reflection, improvements could be made, such as the addition of voiceover on the instructional video in order to make the video accessible to those with visual impairment.

Green T Leaves’ instructional diagrams in progress

Designers have a part to play in system design

Diversity is beneficial in addressing complex problems such as organic waste. Cultural diversity has been shown to increase innovation and entrepreneurship (Nathan & Lee, 2013). Temple Grandin proposes that there are all sorts of thinkers: pattern, visual, auditory and verbal; and they are all needed (Grandin & Panek, 2013; Grandin, 2014). A balance and inclusion of these minds is crucial. For example, Steve Jobs was an artist, a visual thinker, and had audited a calligraphy course in college. This led to the Mac having “multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts” (Naughton, 2011) with the help of engineers, pattern thinkers, to realise this iconic feature. Conversely, Grandin points out that a visual thinker would have foreseen the problematic design of the Fukushima plant and included waterproofing features that would have prevented the meltdown (Acton & Hibbs, 2012; Buongiorno et al., 2011; Grandin, 2014).

grandin cattle coral
Grandin, a visual thinker, designed for the “wicked problem” of the cattle slaughter industry to be more humane. Left: Design schematic (Grandin, n.d.-b), Right: An Australian cattle ranch corral designed by Grandin (Grandin, n.d.-a)

Transdisciplinary design extends the notion of the importance of diversity by recognising that multidisciplinary design approaches start the diversification process by the meeting of different disciplines yet in a “siloed manner” (Hearn, 2011), but transdisciplinary design “challenges the assumptions we carry within us, to re-think way we do things and the outcomes of our decisions” (Curi, 2016). The organic waste problem can benefit from a transdisciplinary approach as the problem being solved is not uniquely related to any one discipline.

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Hard Systems vs. Soft Systems methodological approaches (Checkland & Poulter, 2006, pp. 19)

While other industries may employ a “hard systems” methodology where the system exists to be manipulated (Checkland & Poulter, 2006), design moves towards a “soft systems” approach as it focuses on the interplay between the environment, users and components in the system by assessing the usability and accessibility of a design, improving customer engagement, and not necessarily taking an approach where a single solution that is considered objectively ‘best’ is provided but rather considering multiple design options as possible solutions.

It is only natural that design be included in all types of systems, be it an organic waste system or the design of a nuclear power plant. Designers are visual thinkers, however they are also a balance between art and engineering, a diverse skillset. Each discipline is useful in the process of designing potential organic waste solutions and lends certain strengths, toolkits, and knowledge, and allows for appropriate task allocation and efficiency. Different perspectives, as users of the organic waste system also, help achieve a broader understanding of the problem. Therefore, all minds are needed to be able to reveal and broadly contextualise the problem at hand.


Acton, J. & Hibbs, M. 2012, “Why Fukushima was preventable”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC, viewed 7th May 2017,  

Buongiorno, J., Ballinger, R., Driscoll, M., Forget, B., Forsberg, C., Golay, M., Kazimi, M., Todreas, N., Yanch, J., 2011, “Technical Lessons Learned from the Fukushima-Daichii Accident and Possible Corrective Actions for the Nuclear Industry: An Initial Evaluation”, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, viewed 7th May 2017,

Checkland, P. & Poulter, J. 2006. Learning for action: a short definitive account of soft systems methodology and its use for practioners, teachers and students, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. pp. 3-22

Curi, G. 2016, “Why Transdisciplinary Design?”, New York, viewed 7th May 2017,

Grandin, T. n.d.-a, “Australian Cattle Ranch Design”, photographed by Roberto E. de A. Barros, viewed 9th May 2017,

Grandin, T. n.d.-b, “Basic Curve Design for Cattle Handling, Cattle Yards, and Corral Designs”, viewed 9th May 2017,

Grandin, T. 2014, “Different kinds of minds contribute to society“, The Biomedical & Life Sciences Collection, Henry Stewart Talks Ltd, London, viewed 7th May 2017,

Grandin, T. & Panek, R. 2013, “How an Entirely New, Autistic Way of Thinking Powers Silicon Valley” viewed 7th May 2017,

Hearn, M. 2011, ‘The power of transdisciplinary design’, Artichoke, Issue 35

Nathan, M. & Lee, N. 2013, ‘Cultural Diversity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Firm-level Evidence from London.’ Economic Geography, Vol 89, Issue 4, pp. 367–394.

Naughton, J. 2011, “Steve Jobs: Stanford commencement address, June 2005”, viewed 7th May 2017,

Post A:The Journey of a humble Soup

Though I no longer live with my parents, I am occasionally handed the by-products of their garden. As part of my One Day Waste Audit, I will mainly examine the waste associated with the life cycle of a Chinese gourd from my mum’s garden.

Peels from the gourd

The four kilogram gourd was made into a soup with several ingredients. Waste within the house consisted mainly of peels from the vegetables and the plastic packaging of the noodles. Four parts of the gourd were considered inedible due to the texture or the difficulties in digesting it, so were disposed of in general waste or fed to my pet galah, Bitey. All of these parts were fully degradable, however the local council does not permit organic kitchen waste to be disposed of in their green waste bins (The Hills Shire Council 2014; The Hills Shire Council 2016) and a composting system is not practical as I have no garden.

Water was an integral part of the gourd’s journey. The gourd was grown with water; to wash it took water; the soup needed water as an ingredient; after eating, dishes were washed with water; and through the excretion process, water is used again, going back into the sewerage system.

gourd assessment 1 post a_02
My One Day Waste Audit featuring the gourd

Before water enters the home, it has to be treated in a number of ways including a filtering process consisting of a mesh filter, sand and charcoal beds, and flocculent; and chemical treatment by adding chlorine, fluoride and a pH balancer (Sydney Water n.d.-b). Wastewater is also treated whereby biosolids, used in agriculture and mining, is extracted, while other waste materials are sent to landfill, then the remaining water is either recycled or discharged into the waterways (Sydney Water n.d.-a).

“Wasted” water has been a longstanding issue in Sydney marked by the implementation of Level 3 Water Restrictions in 2005 due to falling dam levels (Sydney Water n.d.-c; Sydney Water, n.d.-d), and ‘Water Wise Rules’ in 2009 which have remained in place (Sydney Water, n.d.-d). Governments have implemented a variety of laws to address water wastage issues such as mandatory water efficient design on new properties (NSW Legislation 2014), and mandatory water saving devices in rental properties to bill tenants for water (Fair Trading, n.d.), while residents have changed their water use habits due to legislation and campaigning (Dolnicar, S. & Hurlimann, A. 2010; Randolph, B. & Troy, P. 2007).


My One Day Organic Waste Audit highlights problems concerning the highly urbanised lifestyle of myself and many Sydneysiders. It may be worth exploring how we can use certain aspects of Sydney’s water restriction campaign in order to affect the behaviours and attitudes of individuals, and look at how changes in rules and regulations or services at a local government level can give individuals more choice and autonomy with how they deal with waste.

Canapé Audit

At the UTS book launch, there was emphasis placed on the use of Australian ingredients in the canapés which potentially reduced the environmental cost of making of the canapés such as decreased energy used in transport due to shorter distances. However not all the ingredients were accounted for on the menus or the caterer’s website (European Catering n.d.). A major point of waste was the terrarium dish where a disproportionate amount of dip was used compared to the amount of vegetables.

gourd assessment 1 post a 1i_01
Canapé audit


Dolnicar, S. & Hurlimann, A. 2010, ‘Australians’ Water Conservation Behaviours and Attitudes’, Australian Journal of Water Resources, 14 (1), p.g. 43-53, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

European Catering n.d., Cocktail Menu, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2014, <;

Fair Trading n.d., Passing on water charges, NSW, Australia, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

The Hills Shire Council 2014, Garden Organics – Green Lid, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

The Hills Shire Council 2016, The Hills Shire Council – What goes in your green lidded bin, video, YouTube, viewed 1st April 2017 <;

NSW Legislation 2014, State Environmental Planning Policy (Building Sustainability Index: Basix) 2004, Parliamentary Counsel’s Office, NSW, Australia, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Randolph, B. & Troy, P. 2007, Water Restrictions as a way of Moderating Demand, State of Australian Cities Research Network, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Sydney Water n.d.-a, Wastewater Network, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Sydney Water n.d.-b, Water Quality and Filtration, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Sydney Water n.d.-c, Water Restrictions, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Sydney Water, n.d.-d, What were the previous water restriction levels?, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;