Secondhand

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

This fills a needed gap in literature about climate change. Never before have I read about the life cycle of secondhand products, and it was a page-turner to boot.
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I thought this was a fascinating look at what happens to our stuff once it is no longer ours. I did have a little incite into this topic as I was once an assistant manager at a thrift store but I learned much more in this book.
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I absolutely loved this book. My wife and I made the decision to minimize our stuff and it is fascinating to find out there is an entire market for secondhand stuff and also to realize there is just too much stuff being purchased for the secondhand market to even make a dent in removing these items from the trash stream. The people that Adam meets are wonderful in telling their stories! a great read!
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Secondhand, Travels In The New Global Garage Sale, is an in-depth look at what happens to your "stuff" when you dispose of it. Whether it be Goodwill, a "downsizing" service, or wherever. 
The author travels all over, examining the industries that have popped up to utilize our "cast-offs:. The United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Africa, Southeast Asia, and on and on. Whether it be used clothing in Africa, rag processors in Ohio, child safety seats in Mexico (what a racket this has become, declaring older seats as defective), or electronics in Ghana. It does one's heart good to see that others are utilizing the "stuff" we declare too old or obsolete. The author's travels take him to many cottage industries, and he makes their work very interesting to read about. 
The author also covers the planned obsolescence built into our products here in the U.S., and the outright sabotage of items by some of our most recognized companies (shame on you, Apple). 
All in all, this book really opened my eyes to an area that I did not even know existed. It's a very interesting read. And you will learn a lot!
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A nice look at the market that is secondhand. Looks at the market of secondhand goods and what impact it has on people involved. He travels to different places around the world to have a look at what is part of the market.
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If you have ever donated items to Goodwill or another thrift store and wondered what happened to them, then this book is for you.  This is a well-done piece of journalism where the author follows items from thrift stores in the US to a number of final locations.  Some items are bought by Mexicans from a Goodwill near the Arizona border and then are resold in Mexico.  Other items, especially clothing, go to Canada where they are sorted by immigrants and the lightweight clothing is shipped to Africa or India for resale.  Appliances, electronics and cars are also shipped to Africa to be repaired and resold.  The author also visits Japan where there is a booming business cleaning out the houses of elderly or deceased people.  
All along the way it is easy to see the value that is given by selling these excess items and how they are reused by many in less developed countries.  As someone who is trying to declutter and minimize future purchases, this was an excellent read.  The book is very well written and the style is engaging, particularly because of the first person stories and interactions with various people involved in the secondhand goods process all over the world.
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A fascinating look at people’s possessions and how we overbuy and then dispose of things we had to have.The author takes us behind the scene at goodwill where car after car drops off items they no longer want.We go behind the doors to learn about the way items are sorted priced sent off to area Goodwills. 
He also writes about services people hire sometimes after a house crammed with goods is about to be sold a team comes in packs separates items for donations junk or to keep.This is a booming business here and around the world.
I found this a really interesting read a book that will make me before mindful before I randomly buy things, For all people who have been curious about places like Goodwill or about other people’s homes possessions this is the book for you entertains eyeopening. #netgalley #bloomsburyusa
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Who knew there was such a thing as recycle themed journalism. Well, there is, Adam Mitner’s doing it. And this is his second book on the matter, titled appropriately enough Secondhand. Mitner was raised into a family of scrap dealers and spent years traveling the globe reporting on recycling industries and so on, which is to say the man is perfectly qualified to write this book about the second lives of all your crap. You know, all those things you’ve ever donated to a thrift shop and never thought twice about it…well, this may not interest you. But if you’ve ever given a second thought to where your things might end up after you’re done with them, you’ll find this interesting. Because there’s an entire industry out there dedicated specifically to supporting the aphorism that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It renews, reuses and recycles, it sells what’s sellable, throws out what isn’t and ships off tons of it across the seas to third world countries. And developing world is making use, industry even, out of things we no longer want a thing to do with. It’s fascinating, really. But mostly it’s a somber sobering commentary of the disposable culture we live in. Fast food, fast fashion, etc….all the things that shouldn’t be fast, but are. They create a culture of waste, where things aren’t made to last, where repairs are made prohibitive enough as to encourage buying new or trading up, where planned obsolescence thrives. It’s a terrible way to live, but everyone is doing it, because it’s easy and cheap and often both. But not everyone, not really, not even everyone in the first world countries and this book offers different perspectives and examples of how to get around the sheeple way from start ups concentrating on repairs to practicing conscientious  shopping and so on. Mitner follows shipments of recyclable clothing and technology across the world to find out how developing nations utilize this refuse…essentially to prove that it’s salvageable and usable way past its arbitrary expiration dates. In fact, Mitner even takes on the arbitrariness of expiration dates, baby car seats for instance, seemingly created to mainly encourage buying more. And that’s the thing, isn’t it, society that thrives on consumerism and materialistic values will do whatever it takes to sell more. The same competition that drives the costs down, also drives down the quality. People buy things they don’t need, end up with two much crap, downsize and then with more space and money go right back to it. And no amount of cutesy books and shows on minimalism is going to make a difference. Maybe even this book won’t make a difference, but it’ll certainly educate the readers willing to be educated and that’s a good thing. And while personally through conscious choices and limitations I’m not really the book’s choice audience, it was nevertheless an interesting read. Mitner is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic Virgil on this tour of secondhand underworld. But very much a journalist throughout, meaning committed to presenting unbiased balanced accounts more so that personality infused  engaging ones. In fact, the author’s personality doesn’t come out until the afterword, where among other things he lists the objects he’s been tempted to buy secondhand on his travels for this book. I do prefer more personalized nonfiction, but to each his/her own. For me, It wasn’t ideal, it went into entirely too many minute details about recycling processes, etc. In fact, it would have made a great journalistic article or maybe a series of them, but for a book, interesting as it was, it wasn’t all that engaging at times, dragged down by the minutiae instead of the grand scheme of things and at times it read very much like a well informed essay. But…the idea here was to educate the population of the prosperous countries with disposable incomes as to how their purchasing choices affect the environment and global economy and so on and largely it succeeds at the task. I’m too cynical to think it’ll make a difference for any significant percentage of the population, but if it has any effect even on the microscale it’s still a win. Informed choices for the happier world and all that. There are also some fascinating accounts of the strategies behind thrift store and secondhand retailers, might be of interest to anyone who’s ever shopped in one. Probably best not to read this in one sitting as I inexplicably did, it’s too…too much. Thanks Netgalley.
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