Saturday, December 14, 2019

Adam Minter

Adam Minter is a columnist at Bloomberg Opinion where he writes about China, technology, and the environment. He is the author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade, a critically-acclaimed bestselling insider’s account of the hidden world of globalized recycling, and the recently released Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale.

From the transcript of his Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

TERRY GROSS: Adam Minter, welcome back to FRESH AIR. I interviewed you after your previous book, "Junkyard Planet," was published. And in preparing for the interview today, I read that your mother died two weeks after publication of that book. So I don't know; I think I probably spoke to you before that. Anyways, I'm sorry. You talk about this in the book, in the way that it's relevant to the book, in that you were living in a small apartment in Shanghai at the time, and after your mother died, like, you couldn't take her stuff to your home. There was no room. It was too far away. And that was one of the things that got you thinking a lot about reuse.

ADAM MINTER: Yeah, it was - I remember it quite clearly. She was at the reading that we had in St. Paul, and a few days later, she passed away. And you know, what happened is what happens to a lot of American families. There's sort of two periods of grieving, in a way. There was the grieving of my mother passing, but then you're sort of left with the material legacy of her life - you know, her property, the things that were in her small apartment, the things that we found out were stored in relatives' basements. And it became the responsibility of my sister and I to figure out what to do with those things. And neither of us really were in a position to take anything. She lived in a small apartment in New York. As you said, I was in Shanghai.

And so it took over a year of us coming in and out of town, occasionally, you know, giving things away, maybe taking a piece or, you know, something - a picture - out of the boxes. And finally, we got to the end of it, and we were left staring at her china. And neither of us wanted to let it go because we knew she loved that china. And it was sort of a, you take it; no, you take it; no, you take it. And finally, we said, let's take it to the Goodwill. And when we were, you know, waiting to drop that off in the drive-through drop-off at the Goodwill in Hopkins, Minn., it occurred to me that...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue