Yesterday while walking through London I was offered a flyer. A few blocks later, another flyer. Then someone tried to stop me to get me to give money to a charity and then tried to make me feel guilty for not stopping. All that in a matter of 5 minutes.

Last week I conducted a little experiment at home. On average, in the space of the day I have 6 pieces of junk mail pushed through the mail hole on my front door, 1 telemarketer calling to sell me something I couldn’t possibly use, 4 calls with automatic messages again trying to sell me something I don’t want and (lately in particular), one individual knocking on the door to sell me something, usually an idea or a politician. So on average, when I am in my home, 12 people/companies are invading my personal space on a daily basis to try to sell me something that I have not asked for. It wastes my time, especially because the majority of these messages are not even targeted at me or people like me, and it wastes a lot of resources.

What if all these companies or individuals that are forcing their way into my home on a daily basis were to give me something that I could really use. I wish the telemarketers would call everyday to tell me the weather forecast for the day, or perhaps a word a day in Japanese (why not, seems like an interesting language). I wish that the companies giving me junk mail pamphlets would give me some nice seeds for my garden instead since I could really use some right now. I wish the individuals knocking on my door would clean the leaves away from the front yard since I have been meaning to do that for a while now.

Ok, maybe that isn’t going to happen, but maybe it should. It isn’t a good idea to waste people’s time giving them things that they don’t want. Give people something that they can use in exchange for their time. Today I received an apple juice add that has a coupon on the back. I don’t use coupons but I can see others using it as it is a good discount on a good apple juice. But I’d like to see companies take it further. Perhaps the Indian takeout menu I am given every week could also have a recipe for a classic indian dish on it, or something about the region of India that the food they cook is from. At this moment I may be more likely to vote for the politician that gives me a pack of tomato seeds with their face printed on the front. Not only are you eliminating waste in terms of waste of time and waste of resources to create pamphlets no one wants by turning them into something they can use, you also become more interesting, something people remember, perhaps even something they will talk about and share.

Mexican restaurant Wahaca in London doesn’t have brochures to publicize their food. Instead they have created little branded matches which are actually Serrano chilli seeds (see picture). They are my current favorites, mostly because they gave me seeds.

Adults are just big kids. We want to be entertained too.