All That Trash

The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff

Meghan McCarthy

A garbage barge that can’t find a place to welcome it sparks a recycling movement in the United States in this smart and smelly picture book from the author of Earmuffs for Everyone.

Lowell Harrelson wanted to turn trash into methane gas so he rented a barge called Morbo 4000. His plan was to ship the garbage from New York to North Carolina, but as the barge floated down the coast, no state would let him dock because of smelly waste on board! The barge became a mockery and the butt of many jokes in the media. What started as an attempted business venture turned into quite the predicament for Mr. Harrelson.

Mobro 4000 roamed the seas for forty-five days and traveled a distance of 6,000 miles. While awaiting its fate, the trash floated in New York’s harbor, garnering much attention by onlookers. Green Peace activists put up a large banner across the barge that read, “NEXT TIME…TRY RECYCLING.”

Even though the garbage barge was a farce, the unintended consequence inspired America to find a new way to deal with its trash.

Praise for All That Trash:

An ALA Notable Book

★“The year was 1987 and a ship full of trash was about to become famous…The narrative is immensely readable…A fresh take on a story of old garbage guaranteed to spark conversations and a desire for actions among students. Highly recommended.” —School Library Journal, starred review

"McCarthy again tackles an unusual subject: a garbage barge that traveled for over 6,000 miles....Backmatter includes recycling project photos and recycling facts....this book will be most useful for teachers to use in environmental projects."—Kirkus Reviews

"An entertaining true tale of a smelly saga in U.S. history....extensive backmatter, which includes details about the barge, the sensation it became, and the aftermath of the events described in the book, as well as information about America’s history with refuse and recycling."—Publishers Weekly

"McCarthy has spent her career detailing off radar topics that seem trivial, until you realize they’re not. The story contains elements of adventure (the barge spends five months cruising the Atlantic), absurdity (a business owner in the Bahamas wants to build a resort atop the trash), and regret (a Greenpeace banner reads “Next Time . . . Try Recycling”). McCarthy’s cartoon-style acrylic illustrations convey a myriad of details, particularly concerning the people and equipment involved."—Booklist