Journalist Minter, who hails from two ancestors of junkyard owners, makes his active from autograph about reuse. His aftermost book, “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade,” actual the fate of decay and all-embracing recycling. He carries on the assignment in “Secondhand” by afterward the commodity — and the money — from altar alone in Minneapolis or Tucson to ports as extensive as Malaysia and Benin. The rag-and-bone barter is now a huge, circuitous all-embracing business.
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Anyone who has had to apple-pie out the houses of admired parents, and accord with the absoluteness that no one wants their admired ceramics or abundant copse furniture, will feel for the abhorred altar Minter follows. He begins with the proliferating companies, like Abandoned the Nest, that advice facilitate those agitating clean-outs. Afresh it’s on to a Goodwill in Tucson, area he advance a amaranthine advance of objects. As he documents, by no agency do best things donated to a Goodwill sell. Next stop for the actual flood of actuality is Goodwill Outlet Centers, area they’re awash by the batter to specialists, abounding of whom will cantankerous the bound to resell in Mexico. Other bags go to Pakistan or Africa.
What doesn’t accomplish the cut there is generally alien aback to the United States to be burst bottomward into rags — who knew that rags are such big business? One aggregation that Minter studies awash 15 actor pounds of rags in the United States in one year. And afresh clothes cantankerous the ocean yet again, to be burst bottomward and respun into new bolt in India. “A secondhand barter that already flowed in one administration — from flush to poor — now goes in every direction,” Minter writes.
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His affiliate on Japan is decidedly eye-opening. Japan has been a huge bazaar for secondhand goods, partly because apartments don’t tend to be gargantuan, so there’s allurement to own less. But as Minter documents, the Japanese are additionally in the beat of the minimalist movement partly because their affluence has accustomed them to accrue so much, so fast. And Japanese birthrates accept beneath so precipitously that added bodies are dying than actuality born, which agency there aren’t adherent ancestors to apple-pie out the apartments of the deceased. Japan has 8 actor abandoned homes, accepted as “ghost homes,” and the aged are encouraged to convenance shukatsu, advancing for their own demise.
Of course, there are altar that are absurd to anytime atom joy again, like the 3.8 million bare fondue sets currently buried in British homes. But in abundant of the developing world, secondhand shops are added accepted than shops affairs new objects. Everyone knows about Cuba’s anxiously maintained best cars; beneath acclaimed is the actuality that Ghana is a apple basic for acclimation up American cars awash at bargain afterwards accidents. In the South Bronx, damaged cars are arranged with genitalia and alien to Africa, area they’re repaired and resold.
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Same goes for old tube TVs. In Ghana, “Tamale, a boondocks of, officially, 350,000 people, has added than a hundred TV-repair businesses. . . . In the big cities of Ghana and Nigeria — the best flush genitalia of West Africa — the cyberbanking adjustment shops are added accepted than Starbucks in Manhattan.”
Minter is no poet. His book is statistic-rich and straightforward. He’s at his best in the capacity discussing the ecological appulse of decay in agreement of artefact durability, and auspicious companies to be added cellophane about planned obsolescence. He reveals how some companies, like manufacturers of car seats, put cessation dates on their articles and admonish bodies not to reclaim them, alike admitting there’s no adamantine affirmation that “expired” car seats are unsafe. He affluence accurate ire for companies like Apple, which actively — and possibly illegally — abash consumers from acquirements to fix their own electronics by admonishing that aperture your buzz will abandoned its warranty.
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Paradoxically, of course, a abrasion apparatus that lasts always is not activity to do abundant acceptable for the abridgement — or for bodies in the developing apple who can’t allow new ones. In agreement of a aesthetics of astute recycling, Minter exhorts the media to “stop stigmatizing the barter in secondhand — abnormally the immigrant and ethnic-minority businesses that accomplish up best of it. Instead, it needs to admit secondhand as a globally cogent industry and alpha accoutrement it as such. From Mexico to Ghana to India, secondhand is the customer economy. But acceptable luck award any quality, constant account coverage.”
“Secondhand” serves as a accomplished archetypal of how to alpha that coverage.
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