“Minter’s travels through the afterlife of stuff are revelatory, terrifying, but, in the end, hopeful. ‘Secondhand’ helps us to see a world of possibility in the objects we discard.” –Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of THE SIXTH EXTINCTION
From the creator of Junkyard Planet, a journey into the surprising afterlives of our former possessions.
Downsizing. Decluttering. A parent’s death. Someday, 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? Now and again across the country-or even halfway across the world-to people and places who find value in what we leave at the back of.
In Secondhand, journalist Adam Minter takes us on an unexpected adventure into the frequently-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 deal with-and take advantage of-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 must be this way, and what truly needs to change to build a sustainable future free of excess stuff.