"Minter's travels through the afterlife of stuff are revelatory, terrifying, but, ultimately, hopeful. 'Secondhand' helps us to see a world of possibility in the objects we discard." -Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE SIXTH EXTINCTION
From the author of Junkyard Planet, a journey into the surprising afterlives of our former possessions.
Downsizing. Decluttering. A parent's death. Sooner or later, all of us are faced with things we no longer need or want. But when we drop our old clothes and other items off at a local donation center, where do they go? Sometimes across the country-or even halfway across the world-to people and places who find value in what we leave behind.
In Secondhand, journalist Adam Minter takes us on an unexpected adventure into the often-hidden, multibillion-dollar industry of reuse: thrift stores in the American Southwest to vintage shops in Tokyo, flea markets in Southeast Asia to used-goods enterprises in Ghana, and more. Along the way, Minter meets the fascinating people who handle-and profit from-our rising tide of discarded stuff, and asks a pressing question: In a world that craves shiny and new, is there room for it all?
Secondhand offers hopeful answers and hard truths. A history of the stuff we've used and a contemplation of why we keep buying more, it also reveals the marketing practices, design failures, and racial prejudices that push used items into landfills instead of new homes. Secondhand shows us that it doesn't have to be this way, and what really needs to change to build a sustainable future free of excess stuff.
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About the Author
Adam Minter is the author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. He lives in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you have ever donated items to Goodwill or another thrift store and wondered what happened to them, then this book is for you. This is a well-done piece of journalism where the author follows items from thrift stores in the US to a number of final locations. Some items are bought by Mexicans from a Goodwill near the Arizona border and then are resold in Mexico. Other items, especially clothing, go to Canada where they are sorted by immigrants and the lightweight clothing is shipped to Africa or India for resale. Appliances, electronics and cars are also shipped to Africa to be repaired and resold. The author also visits Japan where there is a booming business cleaning out the houses of elderly or deceased people. All along the way it is easy to see the value that is given by selling these excess items and how they are reused by many in less developed countries. As someone who is trying to declutter and minimize future purchases, this was an excellent read. The book is very well written and the style is engaging, particularly because of the first person stories and interactions with various people involved in the secondhand goods process all over the world. I received a complementary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.