B. Working Interdisciplinary

The interdisciplinary nature of this subject allows designers with varying skills and interests to unite and utilise their specialised skills towards a common goal. This applies to the literal sense of designing, whereby physical skills are broadened within the group and designed outcomes can be more collaborative and extensive in order to “uncover a newer, more powerful solution (Pagés 2013). This may, however, also be seen as a detriment to the group dynamic, as students often have contrasting opinions upon approaching a brief, as a result of their individual experiences within other disciplines.

The caddie design project challenged our group significantly as it forced us to look beyond the foundational elements of design and consider strategy as a designed element. It also, however, presented opportunities to tailor an outcome which would play to the strengths of the group. Visual Communications students were able to apply knowledge of layout and visual hierarchy as well as technical skills within design programs, whilst product designers were able to apply their methods of prototyping and product testing to our caddie design.

This task ultimately allowed us to observe the role of designers within the wider community such as within organic waste systems. Our processes consider numerous influencing factors such as varying audiences, environments and visual desires, as well as practical skills such as aesthetics, production and promotion. Designers are highly skilled individuals with interest beyond the expanse of aesthetics. We are often highly concerned about the needs of consumers and use this knowledge in the conceptual stages of the design process. As a result, designers are highly useful in approaching “wicked problems” (Buchanan 1992) such as the management of waste, as we understand that the needs of such issues go beyond a simple solution.

System design must consider a multitude of influencing factors ranging from user demographics to financial constraints within production. For this reason, design can be seen as an instrumental elements to the formation of systems as we are required to respond to the actions of consumers and consider the process of using such product or system. This ultimately results in a “systematic and rigorous approach to design” that is “user-centred.” (Dubberly 2006)

Establishing a group charter is of high importance as it “clarifies team direction” (Life Cycle Engineering 2015) whilst beginning to educate members about the interests, strengths, weaknesses and experiences of their collaborators. This was no exception to our own group as we were able to recognise each others’ capabilities whilst establishing foundational beliefs for the group and our goals within the subject. The charter ultimately acts as a reminder for members to collaborate effectively in order to succeed.


Life Cycle Engineering 2015, Team Charters: What are they and what’s their purpose?, Charleston SC, viewed 7 May 2017, <https://www.lce.com/Team-Charters-What-are-they-and-whats-their-purpose-1219.html>.

How Design 2013, The Interdisciplinary Design Approach, Florida, viewed 7 May 2017, <http://www.howdesign.com/design-firm/the-interdisciplinary-design-approach/>.

Dubberly Design Office 2006, What is Systems Design, San Francisco, viewed 8 May 2017, <http://www.dubberly.com/articles/what-is-systems-design.html>.

Buchanan, R. 1992, ‘Wicked Problems in Design Thinking.’ Design Issues, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 14-15.

Post B:Caddy Design Reflection

A reflective blog for the caddie project.

-How can different design disciplines contribute to organic waste solutions?

Because of the development of technology and improvement of our living standards, issues have become more and more complicated. The issue of dealing with organic waste is sophisticated and compound. It has integrated different aspects. To deal with this issue, designers have to look at it from different perspectives, making a exhaustive solution for this issue. In this project, out group members are from different design disciplines, we have product designers, visual communication designers and fashion designers. The common insight of design can make sure we can have good communications We use different design methods for the issue, and also each of us have different skills to design the system comprehensively.


-Why is it important to include designers in the management of organic waste?

 Designers are problem solvers. In my opinion, design is not only about creating new products, but also seeking solutions and making services and systems to support the users to improve their daily lives. Environmental issues are more serious in this rapidly growing society, and everyone produces tons of waste in daily life. The way how we disposal our waste is significant, and it relevant to our environment. The advanced insights of designers can generate comprehensive ideas for waste management. Design methods we learnt is actually a methodology of solving problems, and it can deal with the organic waste issues effectively.

New Doc 2017-05-08_1.jpgTo create a construction of the whole design process make the project look concise and easy to handle, and then Figuring out the context of the target can let designers know the reason why the issue exist, such as where is the organic waste from, and where they go. Once designers have handle the problem, ideas will come behind. Prototypes and interviews help designers to refine the system design, that’s why it is so important to include designers into the management of organic waste.


-What contribution does design make to thinking about systems? to changing systems? to inventing systems?

 Design generates ideas. I think new ideas are the key point of contribution from designers. A design process is integrated and complicated, but the outcome must be user-friendly: easy to understand, easy to use, efficient during use. As a design student, the existing systems have been refined for many years, they are not bad but still have some bugs to fix. We need to think deeper than users.

New Doc 2017-05-08_2.jpgDesigners need to think how is the system going, and record the problems while using it. I think changing systems is about finding the problems, fixing the problem, refining the system. The existing recycling system is restricted by many conditions of our modern social environment. Designers must be smarter to improve it. If there is no other way to improve, inventing a new system will be a final solution. By using design methods, re-collecting information and re-researching the issues(problems change in pace with time) can help designers to create a new and better system for users.




MITRE no date, Viewed System Design and Development, Viewed 5 May 2017, <https://www.mitre.org/publications/systems-engineering-guide/se-lifecycle-building-blocks/system-design-and-development&gt;.


Yong. J, 2011, Design is About Solving Problems, viewed 6 May 2017, < https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/08/design-solving-problems/&gt;.

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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 10.08.12 PM
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: 24 hour Organic Waste Audit

When conducting this audit it became quite clear that there was many areas of the waste process that were almost seamlessly invisible, potentially impacting how we approach our individual waste.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.50.28 AM

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.49.59 AM

I live in an apartment complex on the fifth level. In our complex there is a bin room on the garage basement level with 20 red regular bins, 15 yellow recycling bins and just 2 green bins. Sorting waste into the three categories is definitely a choice not always taken. At home I try my best to have all three bins, however, sometimes other members of the house don’t always follow the three bins or create them themselves or sometimes I don’t if I am tired and become more lazier. Once bins are full there then becomes the act of transporting them down to the basement bin room and sorting them into the different coloured bins. Once again, it would be easy for anyone to just put all their waste into one bin without sorting. Each unit pays strata fees and with this there is a person hired with the job of taking all the bins out to the street the day before the council garbage collection and bringing them back in and washing them down. The audit highlighted how the sorting of waste takes effort for the individual. We as humans naturally aspire for ease and much of the waste process is made easier through not categorising and having other people take care of it almost invisibly for our individual and community comfort.

After the reaching the act of the weekly council garbage pickup I felt as if I was guessing what comes next as i’ve never seen it. I can only speculate that the garbage transported away to some sort of sorting process, hopefully finding ways to recycle, reuse or minimize the waste, and/or then to landfill somewhere far far away. This unknowing is unsettling. We constantly hear  that our society and world has big issues with waste processes and landfills rising, however, without the visibility of the issue and direct daily impact there is definitely the easy, comforting stance of ‘“if I can’t see it then it’s not there.” I would love to better understand the post garbage collection and see if somehow the visibility of the process would change my own behaviours.


Book Launch Audit

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 12.28.15 PM

During our second Wealth to Waste class we attended the book launch and 20th Anniversary for the Institute of Sustainable Futures and were asked to audit the event. Undertaking the audit highlighted how there is a lot of work and factors that goes into creating an event such as this. Food and drink would appear from staff members, refilling frequently, attentive to the guests. Behind the bar, glass and plastic bottles were recycling into bins and half eaten food was taken away and refilled to a nicer aesthetic. It is very easy to just see and consume in the luxuries of the celebrating, however, as we audited we noticed the staff entering from and exiting to a door right at the back of the room in a corner. One can only assume that behind this door there was a complete work mode in place with food storage, kitchens, event managers, cleaning going on creating the beauty and harmonious flow of the event.



Singer. L, 2015, video recording, TEDxTeen, viewed 2 April 2017, <https://www.tedxteen.com/talks/why-i-live-a-zero-waste-life-lauren-singer&gt;

University of Technology Sydney, 2013, Waste Management Plan 2013-2015, Sydney, Viewed 2 April 2017 <https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/WASTE_MANAGEMENT_PLAN.140301.pdf&gt;

Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy 2010, Understanding Your Waste Stream: Food and Organics Best Practice Collection Mannual, Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra



Post A:Organic waste audit


Dealing with waste is getting more serious for the modern society. It is about our planet and off-springs. Everyone produces waste especially during eating. $8-$10 billion of food is wasted in Australia every year. Eating might looks simple but there is a tremendous process to support the whole industry chain. I have recorded my one day organic food waste audit to briefly show what is my daily organic waste; how to deal with and finally to evaluate different criteria to solve different situations in the future.

Me and foodfood

I only buy what I need in 2 days, so I go shopping food quite frequent. I divide my food to 3 main kinds which are fruits and vegetables for vitamins, carbohydrates for energy and protein sources. Because I go to the gym 6 times a week, so I eat quite clean which means a low salt and sugar, almost no additional fat diet. I have been followed the very rigorous routine for 2 years(I have cheat days sometimes). I eat 4-5 meals a day which is a little bit different to other people.

IMG_20170403_230001my meals in 1 day

I barely waste cooked food, but some food in the fridge might be wasted. For example, I don’t like very sweet bananas. If there are black dots on a banana, I will throw them into the bin. Sometimes, some food just looks not good, but still eatable, they might also be wasted too. The scraps of food such as shells, peels and bones are the main organic waste in my daily life. They cannot be reusable. The best way to disposal them is to compost the scraps to reuse them. But I have no other option to deal with them, especially when I’m living in an apartment. Sorting the waste is better for disposal than mixing everything up.


The waste of appendages during shopping and using is also a serious problem to solve. Every time during shopping, so many plastic bags will be wasted, small green bags for bulk food, big grey bags to carry items. Some of the plastic bags are recyclable, but most of them have to be land filed. The oven is my favorite kitchenware, but every time a piece of aluminum foil is needed. Although aluminum foil is recyclable, but it need to be cleaned. Used aluminum foil is unrecyclable. For me, the biggest part of organic waste is the appendants. They might be not ‘organic’, but they come with everyday’s consumption.4

too many apendages

Personal behaviors

Our personal behaviors are also important to drive the way of waste. Shopping without thinking is normal to all of us, which could cause unnecessary waste. Saving food is also saving money. During shopping, a carry bag can replace plastic bags, and also it works in cafes with own cups. Reducing use of oven could save one-off aluminum foils. Calculate daily calorie intake is another way to avoid organic waste. The average adult daily intake is around 2000 Calories, and it also depends on the age and body weight. After I get used to this, I can estimate how much food do I need for the next meal.

 Evaluation & Conclusion

According to the UTS waste manage plan-the waste hierarchy, I have list 4 ways to avoid organic waste.

Reduce: Not buying unnecessary food is a basic way to void waste.

Reuse: Shopping with own bags to carry items; Organic waste can be fertilizer for plants.

Recycling: Buy food with recyclable packages; Use recyclable products such as wooden chopsticks if no other option.

Disposal: the last and less favored option.

the organic wastes and solutions

Book launch

less waste, less energy cost, new strategy.


ABC NEWS 2013, Do Australians waste $8 billion worth of edible food each year?, Sydney, viewed 2 April 2017, < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-08/food-waste-value-australia/4993930&gt;.

Australian Goverment 2015, EAT FOR HEALTH CALCULATORS, Canberra, Viewed 2 April 2017, < https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eat-health-calculators&gt;.

Government of South Australia, Four easy ways to recycle your food scraps, Perth, Viewed 3 April 2017, < https://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Food_Composting_Brochure.pdf&gt;.

OZHARVEST 2013, Sydney, viewed 1 April 2017, < http://www.ozharvest.org/what-we-do/environment-facts/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw5YfHBRDzjNnioYq3_swBEiQArj4pdPxlRp0Mggy9kQ-GjkkFmGPIXp_v-51-jZYAZlyYcnwaAnn_8P8HAQ&gt;.

UTS 2013, WASTE MANAGE PLAN 2013-2015, Sydney, Viewed 22 March 2017, <https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/WASTE_MANAGEMENT_PLAN.140301.pdf&gt;.

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 <http://recyclingnearyou.com.au/documents/doc-227-frequently-asked-questions-and-answers.pdf&gt;

Penrith City Council, Bin Services. Penrith City, viewed 31 March 2017, <https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au/Waste-and-Environment/Waste/Bin-services/#What%20can%20I%20put%20in%20the%20organics%20bin?&gt;

Post D — A speculative space

In response to my investigation in post C, I have decided to design a speculative environment that speaks to the issue of the Southern cross aged care facility producing large amounts of organic waste with relatively low recycling rates (Freeth & Hutcheon 2015).

The speculative design is an immersive environment built for the residents of the aged care facility — which gives the residents a chance to experience nature and have a more active role in the way in which their waste is managed.

The space of Southern Cross Care’s existing yard has been used to inform the placement of multiple compost bins. These bins are placed around a large circular, central garden. The compost bins run around the periphery of this central garden, feeding the garden with their nutrient-rich soil via an underground pipe network. The round form of the bins and the central garden, encourage residents and workers to move around the garden in a communal, and almost tribal fashion. The garden will offer a self sufficient means of fruit and vegetables for the kitchens of the aged care facility and also offer an effective, alternative means of waste management. My sketches of the speculative space follow:

Utopian garden
Image: Initial sketches for my speculative communal garden
future garden
Image: Digital collage of the speculative communal garden

John Ferris, Carol Norman and Joe Sempik, published a journal article in 2001 which dissected this idea of a communal garden and what that might mean for bordering community. A key insight from the research outlined that “community gardens can be positively linked to the implementation of Local Agenda and sustainability policies and at the same time used to promote environmental equity” (Ferris, Norman & Sempik 2001). This suggests that the garden has a social affordance that spans far wider than its physical diameter or provision of sustenance. The garden perhaps creates an egalitarian space for the workers and the residents —one of sharing knowledge and practice. We see a space created that allows for additional outputs of organic waste matter and also a space that educates and spreads ethics/culture.

In researching existing community gardens, I found some beautiful communal garden spaces in urban developments of Tokyo:

Image: The communal ‘Green roof’ gardens of Tokyo (Eidt 2014)

These gardens, which soon influenced my own final design, are built into the harsh, urban landscape of Tokyo. Tokyo has introduced policies that require these green roofs to be installed upon 20% of all new public flat roof surfaces exceeding 250 square meters, and 10% of all private flat roofs exceeding 1000 square meters. The policy has resulted in the construction of around 50,00m2  green roofs annually since 2009. The communal gardens are used to promote ‘the greening of the city’ — spreading a sense of community and education through green, communal space (Eidt 2014).


Eidt, J. 2015, Landscape Urbanism: Green roofs, Community farms in Japan, Wilderutopia, viewed 9 June 2016, <http://www.wilderutopia.com/sustainability/landscape-urbanism-green-roofs-community-farms-in-japan/&gt;.

Ferris, J. Norman, C. & Sempile, J. 2001, “People and Sustainability, Community Gardens and the Social Dimension of sustainable Development”, Social Policy and Administration, vol. 35, No. 5, pp. 559-568.

Freeth, J. & Hutcheon, A. 2015, SA aged care case study, Zero waste SA, <http://www.zerowaste.sa.gov.au/upload/REAP/93171%20Zero%20Waste%20SA%20Aged%20Care%20Case%20Study%20FIN%20WEB.pdf&gt;.