The Global Garage Sale

What happens to all the stuff we downsize, declutter, and discard?


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:

Tune 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.

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Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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