Post B: Group Project Reflection – Caddy Liner & Instruction

Part of the Interdisciplinary Course undertaken as students was understanding the importance of our role as designers not just within the Design sphere; but also within transdisciplinary issues which are outside of the normal design environment. Such is the case with the project of Organic Waste Management. By working with an actual a client regarding organic waste and sustainability, we were able to realise and acknowledge the important skills and concepts that we as designers can contribute. In particular these were: i.) design thinking ii) the importance of system methodologies and ii) creating strategical proposals and solutions for a better outcome.

Group Proposal of Caddy Liner Instruction
Group Proposal: Caddy Liner Instruction


Approaching issues relating to organic waste solutions often require a variety of skills and thinking; hence involving multiple design disciplines. As shown with the group project of the Caddie Design, different practical skills and methods of thinking were assembled to produce the final project. A group charter of was mapped out, providing a vision of the different skills, interests and characteristics that each member could contribute to the group.

Group Charter
Group Charter


The different disciplines of Fashion, Integrated Product Design and Visual Communications students allowed a broader in approach the design brief. Some were more prone to analytical and conceptual methods, others were hands-on and tactile. Some were more prone to the simplicity, while others reminded the group that aesthetic is also important for the interest of the user. There were individuals who were living in local councils that implement a Green Organic / 3-Bin Cycle and thus could current problems and benefits of this initiative. There were also individuals that did not have this in their area which meant that they could contribute a fresh and open approach that could effectively communicate to them as possible future users of the Caddy liner and instructions.

Design thinking focuses not on absolute problem-solving skills but in creative resolutions that proposes in acting towards creating a ‘better’ or ‘preferred’ future. This is important especially because not all problems are black and white. Most issues are very complex in its nature, and involve many factors such as social, environmental, cultural and technological, which greatly affect each other when a change occurs. An interesting, yet real example of the complexity of real life issues and its consequences is shown through this short and creative cautionary video that occurred in Borneo:


Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 8.37.35 pm

See link: Systems Thinking: A Cautionary Tale


Such is the case in organic waste management which involves a variety of interest groups and issues such as stake holders, government policies, financial limitations; and attempting to encourage communication of organic waste management to individuals of every age, gender and culture. As a scholar Ulrich W. writes, “professional predominance in decision-making processes reaches further and affects more aspects of our lives than ever before, a fundamental conflict between…professionalism and civil society seems inevitable” (Ulrich, W.  Reflective Practice in the Civil Society: The contribution of critically systemic thinking, 2010)

As designers, it is part of their design process to manoeuvre through the complexity of waste management by strategically organising these into systems. As described earlier, designers understand that there is not a one-for-all answer and thus are able to arrange and segregate factors into reasonable systems groups and from there, investigate and propose the best solution for the design brief. P. Chekland accounts“social situations [as] complex due to multiple interactions between different elements in a problematical situation as a whole, and systems ideas are fundamentally concerned with the interactions between parts of a whole. [Therefore,] it is systems ideas which help to structure the thinking” (Checkland P.  Learning For Action: A Short Definitive Account of Soft Systems, 2007)

In the case of Caddy Liner and Instruction project, the group investigated the many issues with the brief ranging from aesthetic qualities, the need for users to be encouraged with the issue of sustainability and recycling, the cost effectiveness, and much more. By exploring the different issues and problems, it was narrowed down to what the group deemed as ‘most reasonable’ by focusing on a personal level and addressing the key themes: Clarity, Simplicity, Affordability, Practicality. With this, we were able to continue the design process and produce a caddy liner design and instruction as inferred from these themes.

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Group Presentation Slide: Caddy Liner Main Objectives


As one can see in this small example of the Caddy Liner and Instruction Project, one can recognise the big contribution that designer make towards tackling problems and issues of society. As the designed process and outcome is realised, we also begin to understand the effectiveness of their design thinking and systems methodology in regards to creating and managing complex and situations which do not stay stagnant, especially in an ever-changing world.



Ulrich W. 2000, Reflective Practice in the Civil Society: The contribution of critically systemic thinking, Reflective Practice, 1:2, 247-268, DOI: 10.1080/713693151

Sustainability Illustrated 2014, ‘Systems thinking: a cautionary tale […], Youtube video, May 6 2014, viewed 26 April 2017 <>

Checkland P. 2007. ‘Learning For Action: A Short Definitive Account of Soft Systems Methodology, and its use for Practitioners, Teachers and Students. 1 Edition. Wiley, Hoboken NJ


Post A: Food Waste Audit

Conducting a Food Waste Audit for a family explores
i.) both an open and closed system
because it is dependent on the commitments and activities of the individuals within the household, as well as their personal choices particularly in food and waste consumption. Furthermore, within this small case study,
ii.) we encounter dynamic movements in the life cycle of the food,
allowing us to further understand the complexity involved in the process of the food waste and consumption.

In this post, we will explore a very typical Saturday morning for food waste consumption in my family. Having first attempted to conduct a food consumption audit at a book lunch at university (*see picture at end of blog); this audit continues and focuses towards the routine that each individual member of the family usually undertakes on this day. This also means that  the ‘One-day Saturday Audit’ will provide similar results for the general Saturdays (although the types of food consumed will be very different), of the family.

Audit: A survey of each family member’s food intake during their own personal activities on Saturday

From the diagram, we notice the complexity of food consumption within the household. Although it is likely that as a family, individuals would likely consume the same types of meals (and thus we can simply audit in terms of the quantity consumed); with the different commitments and habits of the individual, there can actually be quite variations in choices (as seen in the diagram for example, both parents consuming lunch at home, but it was a ‘takeaway’ and then Child #1 decided to have ‘Brunch’ instead of having breakfast or lunch).

The home is subjected to Penrith City Council that makes use of the Organic Bin System (or ‘Green Bin’) in which the encourage the system designed “so that organic waste is recycled into high-grade compost, recyclables are remade into new products and the small amount of waste leftover is buried in landfill” (Penrith City Council Bin Services). Thus, to continue the story of food consumption, a further audit was initiated, from the ‘food diary’ of each individual (via survey of each person), to an actual closer inspection of the wastes inside the Green Bin for that Saturday. With this, we can focus on the food process at a more specific direction.

Audit of Saturday food waste found inside the ‘Organic Waste Caddie’ at home, which is to be emptied in the Green Bin daily.

The results are as shown above to which we notice that most of the scraps are from the Family Dinner since every single member of the family was at home to have a sit-down meal together. However, there is a scarce evidence of food scraps from other meals throughout the day, even if they were not homemade.

This further leads to the realisation of the different lifecycles present inside the Organics Bin. This then allows to discover a complex flow of the food wastes, which converge towards a singular direction in the Organic Bin; but then as the Bin is collected and moves towards the recycling sites, the wastes are then segregated into different systems; thus splitting the life cycle and again, diverging them into different processes and systems- a great example of the dynamics and complexity of the food waste process.

Sketch Diagram of dynamic movements in the lifecycle of food waste conducted in the audit
Coffs Coast Waste Services
Coffs Coast Waste Services in NSW that also implements the Organics Bin System which is a structure that is similar to all other Councils that implement this System (Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, Coffs Coast Waste Services)


UTS Book Launch Audit
* UTS Book Launch – Initial attempt at Food Audit
* UTS Book Launch – Initial attempt at Food Audit



Coffs Coast Waste Services, Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. Online PDF, Coffs Harbour City Council, Coffs Harbour, viewed 2 April 2017 <;

Penrith City Council, Bin Services. Penrith City, viewed 31 March 2017, <;