Cover image for Secondhand : travels in the new global garage sale
Title:
Secondhand : travels in the new global garage sale
ISBN:
9781635570106
Physical Description:
xix, 299 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Contents:
Preface: the donation door -- Empty the nest -- Decluttering -- The flood -- The good stuff -- Danshari -- Our warehouse is a four-bedroom house -- Frayed below the stitch -- Good as new -- Enough to sell -- And it lasts forever -- A rich person's broken thing -- More suitcases.
Summary:
Minter's travels through the afterlife of stuff are revelatory, terryfing, 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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Summary

Summary

"Revelatory, terrifying, but, ultimately, hopeful." -- 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. Discarding. 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.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Starting at what many people would consider the end of the story, when it's time to dispose of possessions that are unwanted, unused, or broken, business journalist Minter (Junkyard Planet) takes readers on a surprisingly jaunty trip through the global market for secondhand goods. Starting at a storage unit in the Minneapolis suburbs and winding up in Ghana's Golden Jubilee Terminal, a major import crossroads, with stops in Japan, India, and Malaysia along the way, Minter introduces a colorful cast of characters, such as 41-year-old "Shoe Guy," a (self-declared) 35-year veteran of the U.S.-Mexico trade in used goods, and Robin Ingenthron, a Vermont entrepreneur who exports computer monitors from the U.S. to the developing world. Largely a portrait of an industry in decline due to items such as clothing becoming cheaper and less durable and higher ticket electronics being developed to insure that they are difficult to repair, Minter's book reveals an economy hampered by an increasing overabundance of supply ("The things I value, I quickly realized, generally aren't valuable to anyone but me"). This is a fascinating, eye-opening look at a dynamic, largely unseen world that only starts when one drops off something at a thrift store. Agent: Wendy Sherman, Wendy Sherman Associates. (Nov.)


Kirkus Review

In a follow-up to Junkyard Planet (2013), Malaysia-based Bloomberg Opinion columnist Minter looks at what happens to our discarded stuff, the used household goods and clothing donated to thrift stores or sold at garage sales.While conducting his research, the author traveled widely in North America, Asia, and Africa to interview people involved in every aspect of the secondhand business. Because statistics on the business are scanty, Minter tells much of his story through the people he met at the many stops in his global journey. These include home cleanout businesses in Minnesota and in Japan, a swap meet in Mexico, a used clothing exporter in Canada, a sorting warehouse in Nigeria, and a Goodwill store in Arizona (in 2016, Goodwill International "generated $4.16 billion in retail sales, making it the king of an American thrift trade that generated at least $17.5 billion in revenue"). Chronicling the work of the employees at these various businesses, Minter shows readers their expertise, what special knowledge they need to have to operate successfully, what problems they face, and how the secondhand business is changing. China, for instance, used to be an importer of used clothing, but it is now an exporter. The author's respect for the people working in the business is clear, but the character-driven approach tends to lengthen the report and blur its clarity. Still, readers will come away with an understanding that the supply of secondhand goods is vast, the amount of stuff in the world is still growing, and that the secondhand business is supplying billions of people around the world with goods they want and need. The author also offers some recommendations, especially about the quality of goods, noting how the manufacture of more durable and repairable goods would have a positive effect on the secondhand business, something he notes that is beginning to happen already. The handful of black-and-white photographs, unfortunately, are generally small, murky, and unhelpful.A character-driven, detailed, eye-opening report far richer in description than analysis. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

On the surface, an entire book detailing the world's obsession with stuff (including a pointed analysis of reduce, reuse, recycle ) seems dry. In Minter's capable hands (Junkyard Planet, 2013), the topic comes alive. People have needs and wants, and the global economy depends on consumerism. Once purchased, things eventually break, tastes eventually change, and people eventually die. So what can we do with all that stuff? Minter takes the reader on an international journey of reuse. In Tucson and Nogales, Mexico, Minter reviews Goodwill Industries and the thriving secondhand resale culture. In Minneapolis and Tokyo, he provides examples of companies that resell items removed from a deceased person's home. In Toronto and Cotonou, Benin, there's a thoughtful analysis of the used clothing trade. With dozens more stops on this world tour, Minter designs a workable path forward to combat the glut of stuff, including a plea for solid construction that can be used for years and legislation that promotes repair rather than disposal.--Sarah Steers Copyright 2019 Booklist


Library Journal Review

We all have too much stuff, and this engaging new work by Minter (Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade) is a behind-the-scenes peek into what happens when we finally decide to clean house. The author begins by outlining the history of our love affair with accumulating and the rise of downsizing services as the population ages, particularly in the United States and Japan. He follows items into a Goodwill store and meets sorters who decide what is likely to sell and what gets baled and shipped overseas. It's not just clothes, though; electronics recycling is another huge sector, encouraged in part by companies such as Apple, which was a pioneer in engineering items that deliberately could not be repaired. He notes there is a small trend once again focusing on durability and quality, but with the continued success of fast-fashion and the continued trend toward downsizing and decluttering, the secondhand trade is likely to be booming for a long while. VERDICT Well written and packed with intriguing details, this is a great look at a global industry to which virtually all of us contribute, in one way or another.--Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH


Table of Contents

Preface: The Donation Doorp. xi
1 Empty the Nestp. 1
2 Declutteringp. 24
3 The Floodp. 45
4 The Good Stuffp. 66
5 Dansharip. 87
6 Our Warehouse Is a Four-Bedroom Housep. 107
7 Frayed Below the Stitchp. 128
8 Good as Newp. 157
9 Enough to Sellp. 181
10 And It Lasts Foreverp. 191
11 A Rich Persons Broken Thingp. 217
12 More Suitcasesp. 242
Afterwordp. 269
Acknowledgmentsp. 276
Notesp. 283
Indexp. 292