Blog Post D: Institutions and Organisations

Birth of the Environmental Movement

Earthrise.PNG
Earth Rise – the first photo of the Earth from space

“To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold – brothers who know now that they are truly brothers.” – Archibald Macleish 1968 (Gore 2006)

In 1968, the photo “Earth Rise” was taken – the first photo of the Earth ever taken from space. It was taken by astronaut Bill Anders just after Apollo 11 touched down on the surface of the Moon. Earth Rise flooded the public consciousness – a reminder that all mankind were connected to the planet. The resulting paradigm shift moved humanity to a perspective of preservation and stewardship – it was now imperative that the Earth be protected. Within 2 years, the first environmental movements were born.

 

Growth of Food Waste Reduction

Food waste is a prime contributor to carbon emissions. As a result, reducing the amount of food sent to landfill has been recognised as a key intervention point in slowing global warming. Numerous government and not-for-profit organisations have formed to aid the reduction of waste. Some utilise websites, blogs and social media platforms to spread awareness and facilitate networking between stakeholders. Empowered by the interconnectedness of the internet, food waste webpages are highly accessible, visually dynamic and fast moving; allowing the message of food waste reduction to quickly captivate and mobilise its viewers. Many other organisations have developed sophisticated composting technologies to provide a practical solution to food waste at scale, including machines that dehydrate, compost, and convert waste into usable resources.

 

C-Wise

C-Wise machine.jpg
An MAF installation with 3 pumps

In Western Australia, a company called C-Wise developed a proprietary composting technology called the Mobile Aerated Floor (MAF). This technology pumps fresh air through pipes into a concrete base covered with compost. The air activates bacteria and microorganisms in the waste, resulting in an increase in temperature up to 80 degrees (Co). Waste that has spent time in an MAF is converted into a composted product that can be used for horticulture, agriculture and viticulture. This material has been used in the Manjimup Shire Council to upgrade a Timber Heritage Park and local council roundabouts.

C-Wise have been supplying equipment, training and expertise to farms, communities and industry ever since they were established in 1996 as the business partnership “Custom Composts”.

They have quite an unconventional view on waste, show in their website statements saying:

“We recycle wastes including manures, timber mill wastes, restaurant cooking oils, engine coolant, fuel and even paint. Anything that is based around carbon could potentially be recycled by composting. We open ourselves to the possibility that there is really no such thing as organic wastes, just components in an industrial ecosystem where organic carbon cycles around and around.” (C-Wise 2014)

Their website can be found here: http://www.cwise.com.au/news/maf-system/62-organic-waste-recycling.html

 

ecoguardians

Gaia recycler.jpg
A high capacity Gaia Recycler installed in a waste treatment plant

Ecoguardians are an environmental sustainability company in Victoria that offer a whole suite of products and services relating to organic waste. Like the CLO-300’s developed by Closed Loop, ecoguardians have developed a line of on-site waste processors that produce two reusable resources – biomass and water. They operate by heating and shredding waste, then dehydrating and re-condensing the collected moisture into water for irrigation or grey-water applications. Their machines’ capacities range from 30kg – 100 tonnes per day and are capable of reducing the volume of biomass to 10% of its original size. Greenhouse gas reductions of 90% are achieved, along with 0 leachate created.

Ecoguardians’ vision is:

“To provide economic yet sustainable solutions to a range of problems that today’s businesses face with their environmental obligations. The environment should not be treated as a dumping ground.” (ecoguardians 2013)

Their website can be found here: http://www.ecoguardians.com.au/products/valpak

 

Accessibility

These companies can be found by running a Google Search for “Companies Managing Organic Waste”. They can be found on the first results page, or indirectly by accessing the Environmental XPRT website (also on the first page). This website is a global database for publicly registered companies working within the Environmental Industry. The ability to locate and contact organic waste management companies means that individuals, communities and whole cities can access waste management services and change their environmental impact, contributing to a greener, healthier future.

 

 

References:

C-Wise 2014, About C-Wise, viewed 13 June 2017, <http://www.cwise.com.au/news/maf-system/62-organic-waste-recycling.html>.

Ecoguardians 2013, Gaia Recycle, viewed 13 June 2017, < http://www.ecoguardians.com.au/products/gaia-recycle>.

Gore, A. 2006, An Inconvenient Truth – The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, Rodale, New York.

 

Images:

C-Wise 2014, MAF in operation, C-Wise website, viewed 13 June 2017, <http://www.cwise.com.au/wastesolutions/maf/maf-benefits.html&gt;.

ecoguardians 2013, Gaia Recycler, ecoguardians website, viewed 13 June 2017, <http://www.ecoguardians.com.au/products/gaia-recycle&gt;.

Blog Post C: Clarity Through Research

The Importance of Design Research

Design Research is critical to the development of successful and appropriate designs. Research bridges the gap between the designer and client, providing in-depth understanding of the target user and the environment the solution needs to fit within. The best designs are reached when there is an awareness of system complexities and user behaviours – solutions are more informed, considerate, and inclusive.

As a user-centred industry, research must be the foundation for design projects and the measure that they are tested against.

process_diagram
A visualisation of the “traditional” design process

 

Brief or Research First?

Over the course of Assessment 2B, constant emphasis was placed on developing a good brief. We spent weeks trying to determine the client, problem space, and what our design set out to achieve; but all of these were completed without speaking to a single student about their thoughts on waste. We stagnated and there were disagreements on the best course of action. This is an example of a design occurring in isolation from the problem space. Steve Calde from Cooper Design Consultancy summarises our dilemma with his quote:

“Sometimes, a product vision is not well articulated to begin with, but is rather a collection of good ideas with vague requirements. Discovering this at the beginning of an initiative can save a lot of grief later. If your [group] does not have a clear idea of what they want to build… you will never be able to design a product that meets expectations.” (Calde 2008)

We got stuck because we were trying to find a problem without looking. Our designs were solutions that we thought were good, but carried no weight because they weren’t justified by a need. There wasn’t a backbone to tell us that what we had was what people needed. A similar view is held by Tony Fadell, Industrial Designer from Apple, who says that:

“It’s hard to solve a problem that almost no one can see. Seeing the invisible problem, not just the obvious problem, is important not just for product design but for everything you do. There are invisible problems all around us.” (TED 2015)

Because we are accustomed to being given “the problem” at the beginning of an assignment, we didn’t know how to move forward without one. Assignment 2B taught us that in some cases you have to find one and frame it yourself. If we can immerse ourselves into research to see “invisible problems” sooner, we would find it much easier to develop briefs and then design for the user.

 

Our Research Methods

Our research consisted of Semi-Structured Interviews, Video Ethnography, Surveys and Mapping. By starting with qualitative research methods, our project was driven by users’ thoughts and frustrations. Interviews are incredibly useful for highlighting areas of potential change because they can reach beyond the scope of closed yes / no questions. Steve Perry from Macquarium Design is in support of this opinion, stating:

“The value of qualitative research is in completing the picture of customer understanding by getting to the why and how of what they are doing. Qualitative research can help understand customer psychology for greater customer engagement, such as their habits and emotions in relationship to your products.” (Perry 2014)

Having a specific image of our users meant that our goals were clearer. Video Ethnography was conducted to test if our insights were accurate, then Surveys were dispersed to attach statistical data to our findings. The Mapping component allowed us to see opportunities for intervention and touch points within our chosen space – the UTS Underground Food Court.

The combined use of Qualitative and Quantitative research methods was useful not in addressing our brief, but creating it. Our use of Research Methods early in the project ensured that user-centeredness was at our project’s core. Our project is a success not because it can or will be implemented, but because it is relevant. This relevance is the impact that appropriate research methods can have on the design process.

 

References:

Calde, S. 2008, ‘Design Research: why you need it’, Cooper Design Journal, Vol. 1, viewed 9 June 2017, <https://www.cooper.com/journal/2003/03/design_research_why_you_need_i?>.

Perry, S. 2014, ‘The Value of Qualitative Research’, Macquarium, Vol. 1, viewed 10 June 2017, <http://blog.macquarium.com/the-value-of-qualitative-research/>.

TED 2015, The First Secret of Great Design, video recording, Youtube, viewed 9 June 2017, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uOMectkCCs>.

 

Image:

Meade, E. 2012, What I Do, Erica Meade.com, viewed 11 June 2017, < http://ericameade.com/whatido.html>.

 

Blog Post B: Interdisciplinary Advantage

Charter and Collaboration

Our group charter outlined the rules and expectations of our group members. The charter provided guidelines for acceptable activities such as being punctual to meetings, phone usage and eating, communicating through social media and completing work before class. We signed at the bottom to mark our commitment.

 

Groupwork Charter Image
An excerpt from the Green T Leaves’ Groupwork Charter

While we had agreed on paper to be punctual and prepared for meetings, we couldn’t account for the unexpected circumstances of reality. Group members were sick, more important assignments were due, meetings were miss-scheduled or forgotten. These missed opportunities slowed our progress and weakened collaboration. Susan A Nancarrow of the US National Institute of Health states that:

“…collaboration requires competence, confidence and commitment on the part of all parties. Respect and trust, both for oneself and others, is key to collaboration. As such, cooperative endeavour, willing participation, shared decision-making and time are required to build a relationship so that collaboration can occur” (Nancarrow et al. 2013)  

The key to improving our groupwork is to be continually put in time. Participation must be consistent so the group moves forward as a whole. Additionally, building a positive group-culture would encourage “willing participation” from more members and make teamwork a more enjoyable experience.

 

Interdisciplinary Advantage

The advantages of working in an Interdisciplinary team have become clear over the past 7 weeks. The IPD’s brought structural integrity and stability, our Fashion student brought tidiness and simplicity and the Vis Comm’s were in charge of effective visual media. Our backgrounds helped us better cater for our client’s needs. When there were tasks that no single discipline could complete, we were able to rely on each other’s skills. This view is shared by Robert Sternberg, a professor of psychology and education who wrote that:

“In today’s world, … problems of any significance … aggressively cross boundaries that render the perspectives and methods of single disciplines incomplete and inefficacious.

Students learn to think in terms of silos, but do not learn how to connect the silos of learning. A problem-based [Interdisciplinary] approach teaches such integration of knowledge and helps students realize how limited their thinking is.” (Sternberg 2016)

In our case, the integration of our knowledge “silos” allowed our group to design an effective caddy. We were able to overcome our personal disciplinary boundaries by utilising our collective skills and as a result produced a successful, award-winning result.

 

Designers for Systems

Design Thinking is quickly becoming an invaluable resource for corporations and big business. Businesses have realised the importance of a problem-solving approach that is iterative and user-centered. Because designers specialise in emotional intelligence and can empathise with their clients, they are able to identify behavioural patterns that point towards opportunities. The founder of Creativity At Work, Linda Naiman says:

“Human-centered innovation begins with developing an understanding of customers’ or users’ unmet or unarticulated needs. The most secure source of new ideas that have true competitive advantage, and hence, higher margins, is customers’ unarticulated needs.” (Naiman 2016)  

The success of designers does not come from tackling the biggest problem – but from understanding that the problem is the sum of many smaller ones. By working personally through small problems one person at a time, designers have the power to affect change across whole systems and work cultures. This is what designers can contribute to systems and business.

 

Designing for Organic Waste

The Organic Waste system is a difficult problem to address because it is constrained by the limitations of existing infrastructure and a diverse spectrum of cultural attitudes. Positive, lasting change requires implementing changes from end-to-end through primary research, prototyping, analysis and iteration at both the micro and macro scale. Designers will be essential in managing organic waste because it takes creativity and innovation to surpass the barriers of understanding, environmental values and tradition.

 

References:

Naiman, L. 2016, ‘Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation’, Creativity At Work, vol. 1, viewed 8 May 2017, < http://www.creativityatwork.com/design-thinking-strategy-for-innovation/ >.

Nancarrow, S., Booth, A., Ariss, S., Smith, T., Enderby, P., Roots, A. 2013, ‘Ten Principles of Good Interdisciplinary Team Work’, US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health, Vol. 1, viewed 7 May 2017, < https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662612/ >.

Sternberg, R. 2016, ‘Interdisciplinary Problem-Based Learning: An Alternative to Traditional Majors and Minors’, Association of American Colleges & Universities, vol. 1, viewed 7 May 2017, < https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/interdisciplinary-problem-based-learning-alternative-traditional >.

Post A: Organic Waste Audit

The Food Audit

20170403164109127-page-001

I conducted my Organic Waste Audit on Thursday the 30th of March. Because I had uni classes to attend, I spent the day in the city and ate from food courts. At the conclusion of the 24-hour period, I had not generated much organic waste aside from a nectarine core and some residual oil left over on a plate. I began to realise that because I had eaten at commercial food outlets, the food preparation process had been rendered invisible to me. I had not accounted for the organic waste generated in the preparation of my meal (eg. carrot peels, chicken bones, onion cores and shallot roots) because I hadn’t been able to see it.

It was then that I realized how difficult it can be for an individual to be sustainable within a wasteful system.

 

The Ethics

I began to question the extent of my responsibility for my organic food waste. Is it the role of the consumer to ensure the waste products of their prepared meal are managed sustainably? Is the consumer liable for the kitchen’s operations if they aren’t transparent? Does the kitchen take on a ‘duty of care’ for the consumer’s food, making them responsible? Furthermore, are the kitchen employees at fault for operating in a system that provides no sustainable disposal methods?

Angie Hobbs (Professor of Public Understanding in Philosophy) was critical of the role of the consumer, stating in an article:

“…consumers need to take a hard look at their own individual responsibilities… and consider what they put in their mouths. We need to become more aware of which processing techniques result in the most wastage and buy such foods more sparingly. Many of us also find it easier to waste food because of our distance from food production and wasted food may also often pile up out of sight” (Hobbs 2013).

An inclusive view was put forward in the article ‘A Participatory Approach to Minimizing Food Waste in the Food Industry—A Manual for Managers’. It noted that while

“…politicians and customers have called on the food industry to accept social responsibility for its impact on customers, society, and the environment”, the most effective solution to organic food waste is a participatory concept “…that integrates employees, customers, and other relevant stakeholders into the process… to counteract food waste” (Strotmann etal. 2017).

These statements support the observation that the ‘professionalism’ of modern food service contributes to consumer misperceptions of their food waste. I agree that the consumer should assume responsibility for their sustainability, but also that it is unfair to rest full accountability on one party. Collaboration between consumers and the business is necessary to create systemic change that is inclusive, transparent, and effective at properly managing organic waste.

 

Canape Audit

The ingredients in the canapés served at the Book Launch were sourced from within NSW. The canapés were served directly into people’s hands, drink glasses were refilled and plastic straws were issued instead of plastic ones. Finger-food platters lacked cutlery or disposable eating implements; encouraging people to use their hands to interact with the platter instead. These measures were implemented so that the inevitable waste produced could be minimized as much as possible (Australian Government 2012). Conversely, however, patrons were not allowed to see behind-the-scenes where food was coming and going, suggesting that the caterer’s disposal methods may not have been as sustainable as the food itself.

20170406002247971_0001-page-001

 

References:

Australian Government 2012, Reducing Waste, Canberra, viewed 4 April 2017, <http://yourenergysavings.gov.au/waste/reducing-recycling/reducing-waste >.

Hobbs, Angie. 2013, ‘Food Waste: How Much of It Is Consumer Responsibility?’, theguardian, vol. 1, viewed 1 April 2017, <https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/food-waste-consumer-responsibility>.

Strotmann, C., Gobel, C., Friedrich, S., Kreyenschmidt, J., Ritter, G., &Teitscheid, P. 2016, ‘A Participatory Approach to Minimising Food Waste in the Food Industry – A Manual for Managers’, MDPI, vol. 1, viewed 2 April 2017, <www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/1/66/pdf>.