A new study from the University of Sydney says junk mail is unlikely to vanish any time soon because it still seems to work.
It is nice to find a package or a postcard in your letterbox, but all too often the scene is a little more depressing.
Maybe there is a bill, and if there is, it will probably be buried under a mountain of soggy catalogues.
There are plenty of reasons that people do not like junk mail.
"It's bad for the environment, it is unauthorised use of private property for commercial gain - it's my mailbox, doesn't belong to any of the retailers, how dare they use my property for their commercial gains?" says Charles Areni from Sydney University's marketing department.
"I don't know how many times you come home from a walk and you find all these things stuffed in your mailbox and you can't get to the regular mail.
Where's the bill that I have to pay? Well it's stuffed in between all this junk mail, I can't even find it." Professor Areni has been studying the effectiveness of junk mail.
His research, which is about to be published in the Journal of Marketing Communications, measured the effectiveness of direct marketing campaigns for larger discount stores.
He says there is a reason junk mail persists in an age where there are so many alternatives: apparently, it works.
"They definitely got bang for their buck," he said.
"In one case a sandwich toaster sales increased tenfold when that product was featured at a discounted price in the mail catalogue compared to when it was not featured, and of course we varied both the timing of the catalogues and which stores featured that product and we found a reliable increase and it was a huge one." He says it almost certainly works for other types of retailers too.
But how can it be effective when so many people say they throw it out as soon as they find it? Professor Areni says it is because just enough people find a catalogue for an electronics store in their letterbox when they want to buy a television, for example.
He says the catalogues show up in the right letterbox often enough to make it worthwhile.
"It is annoying because probably 95 per cent of what we get in our mailbox is entirely irrelevant, it is junk, but that 5 per cent that is relevant to what we're planning to buy or where we're planning to shop, it provides sales, and that's why retailers are going to continue doing it," he said.
Innovation required Nevertheless, environment groups are urging businesses to consider other methods.
The Australian Catalogue Association says that in 2009, nearly 7 billion catalogues, distributed primarily through household letterboxes, were produced by retailers.
Woolworths alone says its retail brands deliver 862 million catalogues, accounting for 56,000 tonnes of paper.
Peter Mclean is the CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful.
"Promotional materials in the post, junk mail as it might be known, it's certainly the yesterday method of advertising," he said.
"It's been happening for many, many decades.
So we'd really encourage a lot of innovation in the marketplace to make sure that people are really thinking outside the box of how they can effectively communicate to their current and potential clients.
"It's a very cluttered market space, so if you're advertising in that space you're not necessarily going to be heard unless you start to generate massive, massive amounts of published material and that of course has an environmental and a litter impact as well." Mr McLean says consumers should also vote with their feet, and put No Junk Mail signs on their letterboxes.
Even then, material deemed to be political, educational, religious or charitable can still find its way into any letterbox according to standards developed by the Australian Catalogue Association.
At the very least, Mr McLean says consumers should empty their letterbox into the recycling instead of the rubbish.