Say hello to Mr. Trash Wheel – Baltimore’s googly-eyed, eco-friendly trash collector

What has two googly eyes, a prime piece of waterfront real estate and an appetite for cigarette butts? Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel, the world’s first trash-collecting water wheel. With his on-point twitter account, Mr. Trash Wheel has become something of an internet sensation and brought much needed attention to the issue of water pollution. (Yes, there’s a t-shirt.)

Mr. Trash Wheel, Baltimore.
Mr. Trash Wheel, Baltimore. Image by Mr. Trash Wheel Facebook

No electricity is needed to power Mr. Trash Wheel: the current of the Jones Falls River turns a waterwheel to power the conveyer belt that ushers trash out of the water and into a Dumpster. (For slow current days, there’s a solar panel backup.) Once full, the Dumpster is swapped out for another.

Mr. TrashWheel, Baltimore.
Mr. TrashWheel, Baltimore. Image by Mr Trash Wheel

Since his installation in 2014, Mr. Trash Wheel has kept more than 483 tonnes of cigarettes, trash and other debris from entering Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. His most unusual find? A five-foot Ball Python that was adopted by a city resident.

Mr. Trash Wheel has been so successful that a companion, Professor Trash Wheel, joined him in December 2016. (Can’t tell them apart? You can recognize Professor Trash Wheel, who has a degree in trash studies with a focus on the Chesapeake Bay, by her curly eyelashes.) Their combined efforts are a part of the city’s Healthy Harbor initiative, which aims to make Baltimore’s harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020.

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