The Junkyard Planet is an odyssey about the rubbish and the people who work in the dumpsters and turn this junk into money. According to the Minter (2), junk is the second biggest employer in the world after agriculture and farming. Minter argues that what makes junk the second biggest employer in the world is due to the fact that this is a low-margin business that anyone can undertake. However, he further states that the only experience needed is how to recognise what components are valuable, separate them from the rest of the trash and know which companies or individuals would be interested in purchasing these items. However, upon visiting various dumpsters, he makes conflicting findings. While working in junkyards provides millions with a source of income, it exposes the same people to dangerous toxic materials, and people end up thinking that recycling is the solution while in the end, it is not.
The people working in the junkyards while they help the world by spearheading recycling are exposed to harmful substances in the process. But, should the issue of recycling be left to these people or should everyone play a part in sorting their own trash. Then again, if this would happen, what would happen to the millions of jobs that are created as a result of people not sorting their own trash. Finally, is the money that these people are paid by recycling companies enough to compensate them for the risk they take by exposing themselves to toxic materials in the process.
While it is difficult to force people to sort their own trash, I think that companies buying recyclable materials from people working in the junkyards should offer them protective gear. These companies should be compelled to ensure that these people have proper protective gear. These companies make millions from recycling and spending a small part of their profits to ensure a safer working environment for these people would ensure continued business. Also, it might encourage more and more people to take up the trade in the long run.
Some of the values I can identify in the book include recycling. “Unlike newspapers, Coke cans, and computers, automobiles rarely end up in landfills. Instead, they almost always end up in recycling facilities, giving automobiles a nearly 100 percent recycling rate—something that no other product approaches.” (Minter 10). The author challenges us to recycle more and more products and encourages more products like automobiles should have a 100% recycling rate. The other value is responsible journalism. The author uses his journalistic abilities to highlight some issues that many people do not understand. For instance, why is it cheaper to export trash than to recycle it in own country. He takes time to explain and make the reader understand this and many other issues. He also educates people on the benefits of sorting trash, and this is responsible journalism where journalists take time to investigate an issue affecting the society as a whole (Minter 24). The other value we learn is creating employment opportunities. As a country, we are still struggling with the issue of the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. We need to ensure that the poor have jobs which will ensure they have money in pockets. We learn that what seems to be trash to many people is a source of livelihood to others (Minter 14). However, the most important value we learn is recycling. We need to sort the issue of trash sustainably, and as such, we should seek to recycle more and more products.
Minter, Adam. Junkyard Planet. Bloomsbury Press, 2015.