By Adam Minter
In this satisfying investigation-cum-travelogue, journalist Adam Minter treks around the globe to discover what actually happens to our garbage. From the posh Los Angeles offices of a trash czar who made his fortune selling American scraps overseas to a Chinese village whose sole industry is extracting wire from Christmas lights, Minter, raised amid his own family's junkyard business, reveals a $500 billion economy built on wringing every last cent—or yuan—from the rich world's refuse. It's a story you don't see in the grim e-waste stats. "If—like me—you have a television that you'd like to see recycled in the most environmentally sound manner possible, with the most material harvested from its guts," he writes, "Hunan Province might very well be the place for it to go."
This review originally appeared in our November/December 2013 issue of Mother Jones.