LIFE

A Boat Named ‘Mr. Trash Wheel’ Is Single-Handedly Cleaning Up Baltimore Harbor

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Baltimore Harbor is where the Jones Falls River empties, but it doesn’t always empty just water; it also brings with it all the trash and debris from upstream.

As you can imagine, the result is pretty unsightly.

But scooping all that trash out of the water would be a tough, time-consuming job, and, because littering is still sadly a thing, it would also be a never-ending one. So what can a city do to keep its harbor clean?

Enter Mr. Trash Wheel. Known formally as the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, this unique machine combines technologies from past and present to keep the harbor clean and clear of trash.

It gets its power from the river’s current and from the sunlight, so there’s no need for gas and no further pollution.

That means the harbor stays clean and the city can reduce its footprint a little bit more. Like this tiny floating house, it uses solar power so it can run day in and day out.

What do you think of the work Mr. Trash Wheel is doing for the earth? Let us know in the comments below!

(h/t: Twisted Sifter)

This is Mr. Trash Wheel. Powered by the river's current and the sun, this beloved machine catches water flowing into the harbor and sweeps up debris.

This is Mr. Trash Wheel. Powered by the river's current and the sun, this beloved machine catches water flowing into the harbor and sweeps up debris.

He's positioned where the Jones Falls River empties into the harbor and catches the garbage floating down. The garbage is mainly litter that's swept off the ground during rain storms and carried downriver.

He's positioned where the Jones Falls River empties into the harbor and catches the garbage floating down. The garbage is mainly litter that's swept off the ground during rain storms and carried downriver.

After heavy storms, a lot of trash can collect in the harbor, and it's not a pretty sight. Luckily, Mr. Trash Wheel is on the case.

After heavy storms, a lot of trash can collect in the harbor, and it's not a pretty sight. Luckily, Mr. Trash Wheel is on the case.

Since his introduction in May 2014, Mr. Trash Wheel has collected 350 tons of trash from the harbor. In total, he's collected nearly 200,000 plastic bottles, over 100,000 plastic bags, and more than 6.5 million cigarette butts. Without Mr. Trash Wheel, this would have all been washed out to sea.

Since his introduction in May 2014, Mr. Trash Wheel has collected 350 tons of trash from the harbor. In total, he's collected nearly 200,000 plastic bottles, over 100,000 plastic bags, and more than 6.5 million cigarette butts. Without Mr. Trash Wheel, this would have all been washed out to sea.

The garbage is collected via this conveyor belt, which is powered by a water wheel that runs off the river's current. On calm days, the power is generated by solar panels, so there's no cost to run the wheel at all. On a sunny day, the panels can generate enough electricity to power a home.

The garbage is collected via this conveyor belt, which is powered by a water wheel that runs off the river's current. On calm days, the power is generated by solar panels, so there's no cost to run the wheel at all. On a sunny day, the panels can generate enough electricity to power a home.

The trash is collected into a dumpster, which is towed away by boat when full and replaced with an empty one. The trash is incinerated, which provides energy for electricity in the city.

The trash is collected into a dumpster, which is towed away by boat when full and replaced with an empty one. The trash is incinerated, which provides energy for electricity in the city.

Watch Mr. Trash Wheel in action here, and see the sheer amount of garbage he's collected!

Let's hear it for Mr. Trash Wheel!

Let's hear it for Mr. Trash Wheel!

You can learn more about this nifty invention on the Baltimore Waterfront’s website, and even check out a live-stream of Mr. Trash Wheel’s daily duties. He even has a Twitter account!

Help spread the word about Mr. Trash Wheel by SHARING his story!