Post D: Tzu-Chi Foundation

Organic waste is one of the topics that people easily take for granted, and yet it is one of the biggest parts of the waste management system. There are quite a lot of different organisations out there in the world trying to manage waste for us as we are consuming the food on our plates. Today, I would like to introduce you one of the organisations from Taiwan that has been managing the waste in the country since 1992.


Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, short for Tzu-chi, is a non-profit organisation that helps people across the world in many areas. They have volunteers from all over the world, sending out resources for those in need and educating people to make our society a better place. In fact, my grandmother is part of the organisation. She donates money to the foundation regularly and volunteers to make great food for other volunteers who are helping others.

Tzu Chi made a huge amount of organic food waste during the process of making food for the organisation. However, 0% of them was turned into waste – instead, they created a simple method to make the organic waste into something more useful.


Natural Enzyme

How is it possible for Tzu Chi to achieve 0% organic waste? One of the methods is to turn the food scraps into natural enzymes. The steps are easy, and it takes only about three days to produce liquid yeast, and one month to produce fertiliser.

Firstly, they organise the vegetable and fruit scraps into small pieces and put layers of food waste and soil on top of each other inside a plastic bucket. They will fill the bucket with the layers and spray some brown sugar water and enzymes to break down the food faster during the process.


The volunteers will label the month and date that it is made and check regularly and the whole process makes sure it is clean and dry, so there are no contaminations.


The product of the enzymes can be used for cleaning or watering the garden. The solid will be mixed and used as fertiliser.

Tzu chi is also giving out an easier version of the recipe and giving it to classes in public schools and community centres to manage the food waste in their houses on their own.

The class introduces the importance of saving the environment and how easy it is for us to do so. By only using some brown sugar, water, and vegetables/ fruit scraps and leaving it the plastic for three months, multi-purpose organic enzyme is created.

This recipe is safe and reliable. Tzu Chi also gives out a list of ratios for the family to mix the yeast with water or other ingredients for different purposes. This method now has become popular and shared in Taiwan.



0 food waste program

Tzu-chi has also launched this program across the country in the public schools to prevent food waste from a young age. Children are educated about the importance of 0 waste and how can it impact our environment. The program was created by volunteers who are parents, deciding to make a stage show about food waste to encourage the children not to waste food.

This program was successful and the food waste per year has been going down. Now, they are continuing to initiate the program across the public schools in Taiwan.


As environmental awareness grows and the organisation expands, the effects of these organic waste management processes will have greater impact. Tzu chi has already spread offices across 47 countries. I believe that this will continue to spread and make the Earth a better place.



TzuchiCanada,2008, 廚餘製成清潔劑 天然環保又省錢, news, You Tube, viewed 18th June, <>

Tzu-Chi Malaysia,2015, 隆靜思堂零廚餘, documentary, YouTube, viewed 18th June, <>

Tzu-Chi Malaysia,2015, 家庭廚餘有妙用 回收推肥潤大地, documentary, You Tube, viewed 18th June, <>

Tzu-Chi Foundation, 2017 , Index, viewed 18th June, < >

Tzu-Chi Foundation, 2012, 廚餘回收再利用 周年展實做有機肥, viewed 19th June, <>


Blog Post C – Importance of Research

Design research process is intended to help designers to make appropriate design solutions and innovations. As Sarah Doody, author of an American UX newsletter states:

The goal of a designer is to listen, observe, understand, sympathize, empathise, synthesise, and glean insights that enable him or her to make the invisible visible. “   (Doody, 2016)

This means that designers use different approaches of research to create insights and furthermore implement it into design outcomes.

Our group, Green Tea Leaves went through several different research method to comes to our final solution – rebranding the UTS Underground marketplace.


How does research affect a brief?

From the start of the project, our group wasn’t certain about what we were focusing on. Until we talked to our tutor, our group chose the computer labs as our focus area, as that is the place we spent the most time in our university lifestyle as design students.

As a group, we were a bit lost on are we supposed to focus on waste in general or just food waste. As we were lost in building the brief, our tutor gave us clarification on the need to focus on food waste specifically.

We did some observation, and research then noticed that the area is not appropriate for the topic of food waste because although there are a lot of student eating food in the labs, food waste was not a major factor in the labs.

After discovering this, we then thought what area could be the best area to be focusing on and switch to an area that have the most food waste in UTS – Underground Marketplace.

Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple once said:

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”(Young, 1988)

This quote shows that it is normal for designer to make mistakes, but it is the matter of you admitting the mistake and moving on to the better design solutions. The experience of using research in the early stages of the design can help us with admitting and realising our mistakes and avoiding wasting too much time on the mistakes.


How did research contribute with our design?

Research contributed about 50% of our project. We used a few research methods, such as shadowing, video ethnography, semi-structured interview, surveys and mapping. These research methods helped us to understand our user’s point of view and their problems with sorting waste in the rubbish sorting system.

We started with an interview to get some insight from an expert in the area, then went out to do some hands-on research. We handed out some physical surveys as well as sending them to our friends over the internet. In the end, we have total of 50 responses and about 30 responses are suggesting that there are no clear labelling and it can be confusing when they walk up to the bin. In fact, during the video ethnography, we did discovered that there were users that “froze” in front of the bin for a while to figure out where does the waste go. This gave us evidence to continue developing our project.

Bill gates, the co-founder of the Microsoft once said:

“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” (Akdeniz,2016)

This means that you must have a basic understanding of the area that you are working with and the people you are working for in order to make change and innovate. The tools of understanding this important factor are research.

Research help you understand users and their problem so you can design useful user-centred solution.



Akdeniz, C. 2106, Innovation explained, Can Akdeniz, 2016,viewed 15th June 2017, <>

Doody,S. 2016, UX Designer and Founder of The UX Notebook , online newsletter, viewed 15th June 2017, <>

Young, J., 1988, Steve jobs, The journey is the Reward, Lynx Books (November 1988), viewed 15th June 2017


Blog Post B : Designers in team work

The caddie design project we accomplished for NSW Council was the first project we completed as a group. Our team charter was put together at the beginning of the project as a group. We put together a few points we agreed as a group, such as what we are expecting during meetings and understanding each member’s skills. Throughout the first project, I believe that there are a few things that we did well, along with many areas we need to improve for the next project.

A screen shot from our instructional video 

We went through trouble due to poor understanding of each member’s skill set and unexpectedly adding new team members. We did not have enough work to give to each of the team members and didn’t know what stage the group was at until they caught up.
In our case, the result of teamwork did not work out as well as we expected due to the miscommunication.
Bader and Jaegar from Pacific University school of Occupational Therapy states that “Quality communication means more than simply exchanging information. It means communicating with empathy in a way that encourages [people] to develop a willingness to hear another perspective, listen without interrupting and reach genuine understanding. Team members stated that though conflicts are unavoidable, they are more likely to be discussed than ignored. ” (Bader&Jaeger,2014)
This proves that for the next project, our group will work better if we can improve our communication. As half of the members prefer face-face meeting and the others prefer online communication, it is going to be a challenge for us, and we must overcome it together as a group.
Overall, the result was a product that we were all proud of, and some of us still use our caddie design at home. I think this is a great influence on ourselves towards the organic waste management.


Interdisciplinary Design

The interdisciplinary design is a process of developing design solution with others from different areas. This process allows each of the members that have different skills to approach from their professions to guide the group. The designers from various disciplines have skills using different research methods, design thinking and taking ideas into action to manage the organic waste.
The UI&UX Designer Yue Du states that “The two definitions of interdisciplinary design share the same basic meaning; they are about abandoning one single disciplinary approach and cooperating with other professions to solve problems. Design has the capability to change the world for the better, and when used appropriately it can be a more powerful tool than any single area such as technology, engineering or biology. Through interdisciplinary design, people can gain the capability to solve complex social problems. Consequently, interdisciplinary design is what happens when design thinking is applied to the multilateral society; it also embodies the interaction between people and the world.” (Du,2016)
This quote shows the importance of designers working together to solve complex problems. In this way, designers are the best equipped to deal with issues that cross disciplinary boundaries.

Importance of Design Thinking
Design thinking is a methodology that helps designers to attack the problem using sensible research methods to problem-solving no matter what the problem is. As Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO describes Design thinking as “methodology for innovation and enablement which helps with the generation of innovative solutions.” (Brown,2008)
This means that designers are taking an important role as the drivers of innovation and change in existing world systems. Design thinking will ultimately modify the way we see our problems, allowing us to find new solutions.


Bader. C & Jaeger. M, 2014, What make an interdisciplinary team work? reviewed on 9th May, <;
Brown, Tim. (2008) Design Thinking, harvest business review, viewed on 9th May <;
Du. Y, 2016, What is Interdisciplinary Design? Viewed on 9th May <;

Post A: One Day food Audit

The one-day audit is a self-examination of how much waste we produced as an individual. Nationwide “ Australian’s waste 4 million tonnes of food each year. This is enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks, which is sufficient trucks to span the gap between Australia and New Zealand more than three times.

In NSW alone, over 1.2 million tonnes of food is thrown away, and most of this (i.e. 800,000 tonnes) is from households. “(Craggs 2014)

As an international student that lives on my own and happening to be busy at most times, my food diet tends to be not as healthy. Most of my food sources are take away food or any other quick access food delivery services such as Ubereats, Deliveroo or foodora.

Which you can see the unhealthiness from my 24-hour food audit diagram below:


Through this activity, it helps us as an individual to realise where these foods come from before we putting in our mouth and how much waste it is produced to create these foods. For example, to cook these delicious fried potatoes, chips would produce organic waste from the vegetable farm, marketing, food preparations and eventually becoming the food on the table.

What happens with these organic wastes?

Personally, I tend to finish my meal and reduce as much waste as possible. In this food audit, the only organic waste I produced was the chicken and duck bones. Other than the organic waste, the most waste I have produced probably are the amount of taking away containers for the whole day than the food waste.

Since we all know that the food waste is going into the green bin and gets break down and recycle into our gardens, I decide to look at what another potential of these chicken bones can be use in a different way. Moreover, this is what I have discovered:


(Farooq. M & Ramli. A & Naeem. A 2015)

This diagram shows that the idea of using chicken bones as a heterogeneous catalyst with cooking oil to produce biodiesel it is a lot more economical and sustainable than the using homogenous base/acid catalysts. In Australia, there’s already companies that use cooking oil to produce biodiesel although this chicken bones method as not yet use in the industry due to the business itself it is already hard to convince the others, and it would affect the cost of the petrol oil.


Food Audit from the canape


Couple weeks ago, we went to the canapé at the UTS book Lunch as a whole class. The food at the canape is all vegan and consider as organic food. The set up for the food were appealing to the visitors as the food presented in a way that was suited the topic.

For the entrée, it was a series of organic raw vegetables in the hummus sauce and olives to give an image of a garden. Although towards the end of the canape, there were an incredible amount of hummus left in the container and there was no more vegetable left to go with the sauce.

It was a real sad moment that I had to secretly dip my finger into the leftover sauce before they are taken it away. Other than the sauce it was a great experience to eat healthier and have a different aspect as the food that is vegan can also taste as good as other food we ate in daily life. Also, consider of using cardboard made straws rather than plastic made were outstanding as reviewing the environment not only through food but also the kinds of serving equipment.





Cragg, E. 2014, “EPA, Love food hate waste project- $2.5 billion”, “UTS Insearch, Design Thinking DDTH, Power Point Presentation, UTS Insearch, Sydney, viewed 2nd April 2017

Farooq. M & Ramli. A & Naeem. A 2015, “Renewable Energy” Volume 76, April 2015, page 362-368, viewed 4th April 2017 <;

Terzon.E .2016, “Biodiesel: The great crash of Australia’s ‘fish and chip cooking oil’ renewable fuel industry’, ABC News, viewed 4th April 2017 < >