"Support for this podcast and the following message come from Google from Connecticut to California from Mississippi to Minnesota. Millions of businesses are using Google tools to grow. Oh online learn how Google is supporting businesses in your state at Google dot com slash economic impact so in nineteen eighty-seven something convinced convinced many U.. S. cities to pick up recyclable items from residents homes Sarah Gonzales with our planet money podcast reports it started with a garbage barge and the mob mob yeah we kinda over cycling to the Mafia like the Gambino's John Guidi yeah that Mafia and and it starts with this guy in Mobile Alabama low Harrelson H. A. R. R. E. L. S. O. N.. Super Proud of his age eighty five live. Can you believe that still running onto cylinders not a mafia guy just a regular guy you call them farmer of you like this. I grew up. They were sharecroppers. I grew corn cotton potatoes. All kinds of vegetables typical of Alabama grew up in a home The days then in the nineteen eighties Harrelson learns this thing that he hates trash has a hidden use the methane garbage emits can be turned into electricity so Harrelson Allston decides he's going to collect a bunch of garbage in North Carolina and turn it into energy but he would need a lot of garbage and at the time if you were interested interested in garbage. New York was the place but it was controlled by the mob. Oh yes now. That's a story that will take a lot more time than we have today. Those cartel control the flow of garbage and has yet deal with specifically. You had to deal with a guy named <music> Salvatore Avellino Sal a Mambas with the Lucchese crime family who controlled garbage hauling on Long Island got ten years for conspiring inspiring in the murders of two garbage men and I found him. Hello Hi this Salvatori. Yes he's auditory. My Name is Sarah and I'm doing a story about the garbage barge. I know that it's kind of a complicated story but I want to see if you would chat with me about it <hes> well. I really rather not be honest which I want to be polite but good luck but I really don't WanNa talk about. It was the greatest idea hi dear what I was way ahead of my time and do you mind telling me why you don't WanNa talk about yes okay yes. He minds Salvatore Avellino guys picked. picked up garbage and Lowell Harrelson wanted to buy it. There was a ride in a stretch Cadillac Limos. That was a little scary but that was it. Harrelson was in business with the Mafia. He's a nice guy. I like how they rent. A barge called the Mo bro four thousand and he tugboat to tug the barge and on March twenty second nineteen eighty seven three thousand one hundred and eighty six tons of New York garbage set sail steered by Captain Duffy saint-pierre a few saint-pierre one of the best in business people start noticing the barge moving down the coast like what is that thing they think there must be some mobster toxic big waste hidden on the barge and a court order blocks it from unloading in North Carolina the get out and get away from this crowd the barges tied to a Cyprus tree the and the Mississippi River Waiting Mississippi didn't want it Florida Alabama Louisiana all say do not bring it here the barges on the nightly news like who will say no tomorrow the most watched load of garbage in the memory of man. It's become something of a national joke still loaded with tons of garbage still unwanted so the buyer just bobbing in the water two months four months baking in the sun poor captain. Duffy saint-pierre can't dock anywhere to take a shower even and there are all these stats coming out at the time that showed. Food town dumps were closing so people that they filled them all up. There was nowhere for this garbage to go. We've run out of places to throw away our throwaways always where we feel. We weren't full. This is Thomas Kinman in environmental economist at Bucknell University. He's as town dumps were closing but bigger. Regional landfills were taking their place but people didn't see that and so the recycling Arrow was born. That's why we recycled to this day. Who knows where we'd be without that barge? After five months a judge ordered Lowell Harrelson's garbage to go back to where it came from New York to be burned what a legacy <hes> forever will be known as that dummy who sailed the garbage barge. You are basically the reason why we recycle yeah. It has an impact on my tombstone. I would like them to say this. Oh boy did his damnedest okay and lead there so we recycle now in part because of a misconception that the U._S. was running out of landfill space. Sarah Gonzales N._p._R.."