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Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage…

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale (udgave 2019)

af Adam Minter (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1627132,784 (4.23)11
"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?"--… (mere)
Titel:Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale
Forfattere:Adam Minter (Forfatter)
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing (2019), 320 pages
Samlinger:Skal læses

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Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale af Adam Minter


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» Se også 11 omtaler

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This is the story of your stuff. Not the stuff you're using: the stuff you're not using, not anymore. What happens to it, if we don't throw it in the trash or the recycling bin? (Recycling was the topic of Minter's previous book.)

Westerners have a lot of stuff, and it has a life cycle beyond our homes. Minter travels from Goodwill in Tuscon to secondhand markets in Benin to cleanup experts in Tokyo to find out what we have and where it goes. The state of our stuff isn't pretty. Quality is declining across sectors and younger generations no longer want their parents' and grandparents' stuff, which they perceive as being unstylish. Clothing is increasingly poorly made--not a new complaint, but there seems to have been a particular drop in recent years, down to clothing labeled as 100% cotton not being, well, 100% cotton. IKEA particleboard bookcases can only survive one move before they're fit for the trash. Meanwhile, antiques dealers are going out of business and you can't get rid of a solid oak dining set.

The sorting and grading of stuff, and how it makes its way overseas, is fascinating. Your local Goodwill has a complex system for deciding what will sell, and it does a great job of managing its wares. Traders from Mexico come to Tucson to shop at Goodwill, taking their buys back to Mexico. The Japanese send their used goods to southeast Asia. The fanciest goods may sell online; the next tier in special resale boutiques focused on higher end brands. The lowest tier is sold by the pound. As much as possible is sold to keep it out of the landfill.

Activists (and sometimes protectionist governments) often portray secondhand clothing in Asia and Africa as simply being dumped, depressing local industry. But it's not dumped: it makes its way over through a complex, sophisticated trading network. Consumers in developing nations know what they want. They perceive secondhand Western goods to be superior quality to cheap products designed specifically for their markets. The import industry supports not only grading warehouses in Mississauga, but repair industries in Ghana that supply west Africa with used electronics.

But the constant and increasing flood of stuff, in lower quality with planned obsolescence, may overwhelm the system. Already, the shoddy factories of India are turning from recycled wool to petroleum based polar fleece. Middle class consumers want their own new goods. Old shirts are becoming too flimsy to resell or to turn into rags.

(Also, turns out car seat manufacturers are lying about plastic degradation. That was fun to learn.)

This was really fascinating all the way through, and covered so many different aspects of the reuse and repurpose industry. There are so many interlocking pieces to the system. It was also a little depressing, when you think about the sheer amount of stuff we all own, and the unthinking ways we throw it all away--not to mention the vicious circle of poor quality goods. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
A little bit of a slow read - a few long magazine articles probably would have fulfilled my information needs in this area - but incredibly, globally well-researched.

A few key themes:
--"they don't make 'em like they used to" - true! And when items are of lower quality, they aren't as valuable in the secondhand market.
--The secondhand market is global. Used, high-quality goods flow (generally) from wealthier countries to poorer ones.
--Developing countries have robust secondhand markets - AND repair expertise (e.g. cars, TVs, and computers in Ghana, Benin, and Nigeria)
--Government regulation is one way to ensure higher quality and/or items that are possible to repair rather than replace, but other changes (e.g. lifespan labeling) can make a difference as well.
--People in most developed countries have more stuff than they know what to do with. We should focus on REDUCE, as well as reuse and recycle.

See also: Overdressed by Elizabeth Kline


Historically, personal identity revolved around religion, civic participation, and pride of...place. But as those traditional bonds disintegrate in the face of industrialization, urbanization, and secularization, brands and objects become a means to curate and project who we are. (6)

Mottainai (Japanese): a sense of regret over waste, as well as a desire to conserve (28)

"Customers are all about price, not quality" (57)

For people and families with living memories of immigration, of the Great Depression, bargains create a sense of security and identity. (68)

Among the reasons that antique furniture isn't selling in the volumes or at the prices it once did: home ownership among young Americans is in decline... (76)

But in time what matters from the past will shift... (85)

"Whenever there's a gap between wealth and poverty, there will be a secondhand industry" (89)

If the Chinese start throwing away at the same rate as Americans, the price of secondhand clothes is in trouble. (141)

China's manufacturers long ago mastered techniques for manufacturing similar goods to sell at a profit at different price points....[new and fashionable, for many consumers, matters more than durability]. (146)

A secondhand trade that once flowed in one direction - from rich to poor - now goes in every direction. [wiper rags] (179)

Since the dawn of the mass market, product manufacturers and retailers have been sensitive to the lifespans of their products. Some of that concern is in the interests of both consumers and manufacturers. (199)

...consumers instinctively value durability - and vendors price it in....[Consumers] know their long-term interests aren't served by purchasing the short-term reward; given the opportunity, they want to spend more to spend less. (201)

[Lifespan labeling] - [Gov't] regulations requiring minimum durability standards would inevitably chill the quest for innovation in new and existing products....The better approach is simpler: companies must be transparent about the lifespans of their products and attach a sticker or tag to their products informing consumers of just how long they're expected to last, based on verifiable testing. (214)

Encouraging consumers to think more seriously about the financial, environmental, and personal costs of their consumption would be a major step in addressing the crisis of quality and the environmental and social impacts of too much stuff. (216)

Are consumers willing to invest time, money, and effort to expand the lifespans of the objects they own? And if so, which ones? [iFixit] (233)

A consumer right-to-repair law would have two key provisions: [1 - manufacturers would be required to create and make available information for the disassembly and repair of any products they sell; 2 - they would be required to sell the same repair tools they use] (237)

The 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prohibits manufacturers from placing repair restrictions on a device for which it offers a warranty. (footnote, p. 289) ( )
  JennyArch | Jan 11, 2021 |
This book is a fascinating and unique exploration of the global secondhand market. Have you ever wondered what happens to donated or recycled clothing, electronics, books, and more? This book will tell you! I learned a lot; and since the topic is relevant to my job, I would like to buy a copy. ( )
  Rachel_Hultz | Aug 15, 2020 |
[Secondhand] is an interesting and informative book on a topic few of us are even aware of. What happens to all the stuff we divest ourselves of? How does the existence of all this stuff impact global economies, developing nations, all that? Author Adam Minter, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, begins his survey at the "donations door" at a southern Arizona Goodwill. Donations—everything from books to clothing to household appliances to televisions, computers, and other electronics—are transferred from the cars of donors into a room where the initial sort happens. Some items move into the retail store, while others head directly to a landfill.

In subsequent chapters, Minter tracks Goodwill-sold merchandise to Mexican flea markets and, perhaps not surprisingly, to businesses in India and Pakistan. He writes about the way new merchandise competes with used goods. New clothing, for instance, is designed to sell at like-used prices; it is cheap but survives at best two or three wearings, the same number of washings. Then it is valueless. He describes how televisions, computers, and electronics often find their way to a few African nations, where entrepreneurial tradesmen repair and resell them.

Ancillary topics include businesses predicated on channelling America's hoarded treasures from attics and basements into secondhand markets. Businesses to help you downsize, help you sort through your deceased relative's leavings.

If you are even vaguely interested in what's happening with all the stuff we make, buy, treasure, hoard, accumulate, this is a good read.
2 stem weird_O | Feb 28, 2020 |
This is a fascinating look at where our American stuff goes when we don't want it any more. Of course, there are the many whose overflow supports the very profitable and ugly storage units that clutter our landscape. And there's the hired angels who come into your home to perform a "Swedish Death Cleanse". But then what? The author follows bundles of clothing from an Arizona Goodwill to a rag ripping company in New Jersey to a sorting room outside Toronto to a market stall in Nogales, Mexico to a shipping container heading for Cotonou, Benin and another for Kandla, India. Used books in Japan, used televisions in Nigeria, used cars in Ghana, fixing your own cellphone via "the repair manual for everything", iFixit of San Luis Obispo, CA, and much more is thoroughly examined. Manufacturers and marketers try forcing us to buy new, but the author makes the case that all global economies and people benefit from repair and replace.

Quote: "Debates over whether certain countries and peoples can import or export "waste" are, at their core, debates over whether certain racial groups should have access to material goods and whether they should use and dispose of them in ways that richer, usually white countries prescribe." ( )
1 stem froxgirl | Feb 13, 2020 |
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The things that I value, I quickly realize, generally aren't valuable to anyone but me. Once I had that understanding, I started letting go and curtailing what I was buying in the first place.
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"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?"--

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