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#115: The Global Garage Sale

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In his previous book, Junkyard Planet, journalist Adam Minter went around the world to see what happened to American recyclables such as cardboard, shredded cars, and Christmas lights around the world as they became new things. In his new book, Secondhand, Minter looks at what happens to all the things that get resold and reused, objects that end up in Arizona thrift stores, Malaysian flea markets, Tokyo vintage shops, and Ghanaian used-electronics shops. Who’s buying the tons of goods that get downsized, decluttered, or discarded every year? Does the fact that we can just pass something off to a thrift shop justify our buying more things? What about the sheer scale of it all? Minter joins us in the studio to talk about how we filled the world with all this stuff, and what really needs to change for us to get out from under it—no matter where we live.This is our last episode of 2019. We’ll be back at the end of January, refreshed and ready to introduce you to some of the most interesting voices writing today. See you in 2020! ’Til then, take care, and stay sharp.Go beyond the episode:Adam Minter’s Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage SaleWant to learn more about the impacts of fast fashion on consumption and waste? Listen to our episode “Fashion Kills” with Dana ThomasFor our Autumn 2019 issue, Rob G. Green visited Kumasi, Ghana, to write about another problem created by the secondhand market—toxic scrap-tire firesWhere does the money that Goodwill makes from selling donations actually go?Learn more about the staggering scale of Anglo-American consumption in Susan Strasser’s Waste and Want: A Social History of TrashAbandon your idols: Mari Kondo has begun selling you junk to replace the junk you just KonMari’dRead more about why local textile industries are dying in Ghana and African countries more broadly Might recycling pose a similar “moral hazard” to wearing seat belts? Some consumer psychologists suspect that the option to recycle might actually increase resource consumptionLearn more about the Right to Repair movementTune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.Subscribe: See for privacy and opt-out information.