Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale review

Adam Minter recently published Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale. It is terrific. He addresses all those issues that don't get talked about unless you really are down in the weeds with waste management professionals, scrap dealers, Goodwill clerks, those companies that clean out your mother's house so you don't have to, and repairers throughout the third world who cheerfully collect first world discards and refurbish them for $$ in the third world.

You may recognize his name. Minter published 'Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-dollar Trash Trade' back in 2013. He grew up in a scrapyard-owning family and has a real affinity for the realities of recycling, repair, reuse, and refurbishment. If recycling doesn't make money, it can't compete with virgin feedstocks for industry.

'Junkyard Planet' was also excellent and well-worth adding to your reading list if you're interested in sustainability or scavenging.

You can learn more here:

They are both excellent books and should be read together as they cover different parts of the recycling world.

Teresa from Hershey

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

I saw this at work and wrote the title down. It is one I'll want to read. Thanks for the review. I'll check out his other book too. I saw this new title too, called Broke: Hardship & Resilience in a City of Broken Promises by Jodie Adams Kirshner. In some cities the future is already here, but as William Gibson said, just not evenly distributed yet.

"A galvanizing, narrative account of a city’s bankruptcy and its aftermath told through the lives of seven valiantly struggling Detroiters

Bankruptcy and the austerity it represents have become a common "solution" for struggling American cities. What do the spending cuts and limited resources do to the lives of city residents? In Broke, Jodie Adams Kirshner follows seven Detroiters as they navigate life during and after their city's bankruptcy. Reggie loses his savings trying to make a habitable home for his family. Cindy fights drug use, prostitution, and dumping on her block. Lola commutes two hours a day to her suburban job. For them, financial issues are mired within the larger ramifications of poor urban policies, restorative negligence on the state and federal level and—even before the decision to declare Detroit bankrupt in 2013—the root causes of a city’s fiscal demise.

Like Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Broke looks at what municipal distress means, not just on paper but in practical—and personal—terms. More than 40 percent of Detroit’s 700,000 residents fall below the poverty line. Post-bankruptcy, they struggle with a broken real estate market, school system, and job market—and their lives have not improved.

Detroit is emblematic. Kirshner makes a powerful argument that cities—the economic engine of America—are never quite given the aid that they need by either the state or federal government for their residents to survive, not to mention flourish. Success for all America’s citizens depends on equity of opportunity."