Few people would argue that SPAM email or dinner time telemarketing calls are not a problem. Proponents of SPAM email claim that it is simple to just hit the delete key. Proponents of telemarketing suggest that you can choose to not answer the phone for any caller ID you do not recognize.
Similar arguments can be made for direct mail - just throw it in the trash. The Direct Marketing Association even goes so far as to suggest donating unwanted direct mail to a school library! As direct marketers become savvier to the ways of the consumer, they continue to try and craft direct mail into forms that will trick us into thinking it is legitimate mail, and we open it. We also waste thousands of tons of our limited natural resources each year, and fill landfills with the unnecessary products of direct mail. Direct mail can be a serious risk for identity theft, for instance, pre-approved credit offers.
I am not against direct mail, I am against sending direct mail to people that don't want to receive it. It is unfortunately very difficult for a small business to responsibly insure that direct mail goes only to those that want it or don't mind it - the current system doesn't allow for it.
What many proponents of direct mail don't understand is that the people that would join a national do-not-send list, if it existed, are the people that are not likely to buy from them anyway. A major reform of the direct marketing industry would eventually lead to a more efficient direct mail machine and many dollars saved in lower printing and postage costs. Those pennies add up.
If I could choose what types of direct mail I was open to receiving, and know that I could turn off the spigot anytime I wanted, I would gladly subscribe to those things that were of interest to me.