I'm Mr. Trash Wheel, the first of its kind situated in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Since May 9, 2014, I've removed 331 tons of trash, collecting as much as 38,000 lbs in a single day. When I'm not eating trash I enjoy making new friends, partying with sea creatures, and looking at the stars.

Ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/mrtrashwheel https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/3om6m7/til_of_mr_trash_wheel_a_solarpowered_device_in/ http://baltimorewaterfront.com/healthy-harbor/water-wheel/

EDIT: Thank you for all your questions but I've got to go back and save the inner harbor from the onslaught of trash. You all were awesome and I'm honored to have made it on the front page of Reddit. Keep trash talkin'!

Make sure to donate to the new me here: http://www.cantonwaterwheel.com/

Comments: 2401 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

DeltaForcePanda3327 karma

Hi! I started a petition (purely as a means to show support) to put googly eyes on Mr. Trash Wheel. I will garner support and volunteers for this and we will make these eyes from our own money and donations. They really shouldn't be that expensive anyway. What do you think? The petition already has 455 signatures. The link is below with a "mock up" (if it can be called that). I think it would look amazing in the harbor gobbling up all the trash!


(If users here would like to see this happen as well please show your support by signing!)

TheMrTrashWheel3219 karma

I’m happy to report we currently have the smartest minds in trash wheel ophthalmology exploring this option. I appreciate your petition and if we can make it happen, we will.

RoboNinjaPirate656 karma

Can we add om-nom-nom-nom noises as it munches?

TheMrTrashWheel1606 karma

That’s a whole different petition, man. One thing at a time.

upsidedownbat1742 karma

How long do you think it will really take to make the harbor swimmable/fishable? Is 2020 a realistic goal?

P.S. I love you!

TheMrTrashWheel1987 karma

It depends on how much support there is to do it. It’s completely possible to have a swimmable/fishable harbor by 2020 but we’d need a lot of public support. That’s why it's hard to give an estimate because it depends on how much support and work is done in the coming years. That’s what make fans like you so important.

Secret_Identity_915 karma

What exactly do you need in terms of support. Do we need to build you some brothers and sisters? Do you need other filtering tech?

TheMrTrashWheel1661 karma

Well I’d love to have another trash wheel by my side. Folks can donate here: http://www.cantonwaterwheel.com/?utm_content=buffer65495&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

One ask is to come out to the release of the report card this spring. It’s a great time to show your support and find out how you can be part of the movement. We haven’t released the date yet but we’ll announce Twitter or Facebook.

Finally you can come out and support bottle deposits, bag taxes, and other legislation that can help limit the amount of trash that gets to me.

smuckola304 karma

What's the feasibility of getting less trash dumped into the harbor? It sounds like a lot of it is local. Why?

TheMrTrashWheel830 karma

Well it’s 100% feasible. It just requires behavior change and maybe, I dare to say, a little legislation. If we had a 5 cent deposit I could have made $10,000 this year. Nearly enough for a new trash wheel. I don’t mind going on a little diet.

bakerjake233 karma

This is a great answer, but the issue still feels confusing. What are the top three tangible things that would need to change for a swimmable harbor by 2020? e.g. what legislation or what behaviors exactly? Thanks for sharing and giving insight into a complex topic!

TheMrTrashWheel878 karma

1 Fix the City's failing sewer pipes - http://wypr.org/post/baltimores-ticking-time-bomb

2 Build trash intercepts at all major outfalls - http://www.cantonwaterwheel.com/

3 Pass legislation to ban plastic bags and place a deposit on beverage containers - http://www.trashfreemaryland.org/

Jux_1461 karma

What do you look for in a potential Mrs. Trash Wheel?

TheMrTrashWheel2341 karma

Three words: Must. Love. Garbage. Seriously, though I’m an open minded trash wheel. Mostly I just want someone who gets me and someone I love and respect in return.

_Archimedes_961 karma

Mr Trash Wheel, my deepest appreciations to the good you do in your community.

I must ask, what is your favourite past-time, other than collecting garbage in the Baltimore Harbour?

TheMrTrashWheel2942 karma

Watching Rampart over and over again.

bakerjake210 karma

Love it! Mr. Rampart himself is a huge fan/supporter of Baltimore - having invested in the great restaurant the Black Olive: http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/blog/charm-city-flavor/2014/07/woody-harrelson-visits-his-newly-acquired-inn-at.html

That said, you should give him some AMA tips next time he swings by the harbor...

TheMrTrashWheel687 karma

All I will say is he once crashed a party down at the harbor and he's never called me back.

HockeyCannon854 karma

What is the oddest thing you've pulled out of the inner harbor?

TheMrTrashWheel1690 karma

Oh the list goes on and on. I’d say the weirdest have been a live ball python, a half a gallon of frozen strawberry ice cream, and a beer keg.

kkinack744 karma

I walk by you every workday and you never say hi. What gives Mr. Trash Wheel? Anyway, I noticed you got a fresh layer of paint on the floor. Are there any plans to waterproof your pontoons and Wheel? I'm worried you might start to rust.

TheMrTrashWheel1320 karma

I say hello to you all the time. It's just that we trash wheels speak in a high pitched tone inaudible to the human ear. That's why I prefer digital communication. So since I can say it now: Hello! How are you? Thank you for your concern but I am fully waterproof.

Swazniack722 karma

What exactly is Mr. Trash Wheel for those of us not in the Baltimore area?

Paul_Swanson714 karma

Do you plan on reproducing? More of you in Baltimore's harbor or elsewhere?

I for one welcome our new Trash Wheel Overlords.

TheMrTrashWheel1692 karma

Why does everyone want me to get married and have children? I'm a free-wheeling garbage-lovin' trash wheel. I'm not ready to settle down. That being said, I'm not against there being other trash wheels out there to talk to/plot-to-overthrow-the-human-race with.

PastelFlamingo150655 karma

Ever pull a dead body from the water?

TheMrTrashWheel1267 karma

It hasn't happened...yet. I won’t lie to you, it could happen someday. The thought of it gives me nightmares.

Aximill515 karma

MrTrashWheel did pull up a snake not too long ago. I think it still lives at the National Aquarium.

TheMrTrashWheel1406 karma

He does. I miss him.

jhgibson647 karma

How many people come and take care of you on a daily basis? Are you good friends with all of them or are there some stinkers?

TheMrTrashWheel888 karma

Rainy days are my favorite because that's when all my friends come out to take care of me. None of them are stinkers, but they don't always smell great.

SmackySmack619 karma

Hi Mr. Trash Wheel, I'm still haunted by the Vice documentary about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Have you any plans to expand beyond the inner harbor?

TheMrTrashWheel1469 karma

As a Trash Wheel, I may be biased, but I think that a fleet of me could change the world.

disgruntledplatypus558 karma

Is there any plan to install more of you in other cities?

TheMrTrashWheel1126 karma

I'm hoping to soon have relatives living in Rio de Janeiro, Bali, and Singapore.

TheNinjaYeti479 karma

Do have any way to differentiate from animals and trash? What would happen if a duck or goose managed to get inside of you?

TheMrTrashWheel1007 karma

I’m a vegetarian. I also eat incredibly slowly so any animal on my conveyer belt has plenty of time to move before it gets into my clutches.

jewdai241 karma

dont forget, sometimes you're so full on one side they can hop out of the pile.

Have you thought about installing a cat exit only door?

TheMrTrashWheel523 karma

Of course, as overlords of the internet cats should definitely have their own Mr. Trash Wheel door.

Brave_Men_Run469 karma

Would you rather remove 100 duck sized horses from the harbor or one horse sized duck?

TheMrTrashWheel866 karma

I've seen first hand that hell hath not fury like a duck scorned. Bring on the ponies.

sebasq399 karma

Hello great Trash Wheel,

Are there projected numbers for the amount of trash that can be collected if you were to have brother trash wheels in the major harbors across the United States and maybe beaches?
Would this improve drinking water conditions like tap water?

TheMrTrashWheel743 karma

We pulled 300 tons of trash from one waterway in one city. We could pull ten times that much just in Baltimore. Multiply that by every city in America. Mind blowing. This technology could really change the world.

In a salty harbor like Baltimore we’re not really improving drinking water. Yet, if one of my brethren were near fresh water they could keep micro plastics out which could improve tap water.

BlakDrgn366 karma

Can we get your livestream back up and running?

Ages ago I commented you guys needed a webcam on it. and you delivered!


TheMrTrashWheel660 karma

We're waiting on a part but we're going to get it back up. Don't worry I want thousands of internet stalkers to watch me as much as you do.

Crumb756344 karma

Would it help to make a second water wheel, to help meet the 2020 goal? Maybe a Mrs. Water wheel?

TheMrTrashWheel449 karma

I'm looking for a sidekick in the trash fight right now. Folks can help by donating at http://www.cantonwaterwheel.com

Swazniack333 karma

What's your third favorite color?

TheMrTrashWheel720 karma

I think I have to go with aquamarine.

worthproto264 karma

Did your parents mind you chose to be a trash wheel instead of a doctor or lawyer? I mean were they disappointed...?

TheMrTrashWheel574 karma

Well my dad kind of invented me for the express purpose of eating trash. So I'd say I'm doing just right in his eyes.

friendlyperson123243 karma

Mr Trash Wheel, where do they put the trash you pull out of the water?

NovvoN239 karma

What is the largest item you have pulled out of the water?

TheMrTrashWheel479 karma

I once ate half a tree. Let's just say tums didn't cut it that day: http://imgur.com/YLgQUTR

ztanz222 karma

Hello Mr. Trash Wheel!

What are your running costs in a year?

How much financing would be needed to give life to a sibling and where would be the best situated place where you would have them put?

TheMrTrashWheel335 karma

It costs $130,000 to keep me running.

As for a sibling, we're already on our way to funding another me: http://www.cantonwaterwheel.com/?utm_content=buffer65495&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Jclancy96202 karma

Whats your favorite thing to eat in the harbor? And your least favorite?

TheMrTrashWheel589 karma

I don't think I have a favorite but I can tell you I would be happy for the rest of my life if I never had to eat another cigarette butt.

snowlarbear177 karma

ctrl-f, "Wire"->0 of 0

could we have a Wire season 6 about you?

shouldn't it just be Mr. Wheel or Mr. Trash?

TheMrTrashWheel289 karma

Well seeing as Netflix seems so trigger happy to bring back any old TV show maybe David Simon and I should give them pitch. Do you think Idris Elba could return to play me?

novahookah170 karma

How do you unload all the "trash"?
How do you know your current weight, or is that a guess?
What prevents you from collecting massive amounts of weeds/mud/rocks?

EDIT: your live stream appears to be down.


TheMrTrashWheel347 karma

The trash I eat goes into a dumpster barge, which is towed to shore when it's full. I don't actually know my current weight, my trash gets weighed at the waste-to-energy facility before it's converted to power for Maryland homes. I don't collect mud and rocks because they don't float and I do. My live stream will be back up in another week or two - I need new power converter and Amazon Prime won't deliver to me.

Extramrdo184 karma

The cameraman doesn't want to show how the wheel's helpers have to keep throwing away logged-in laptops so he can type on them for the brief moments they're in his mouth.

TheMrTrashWheel243 karma

Shhh.....I told you that secret was between us.

Clockw0rk168 karma

Serious question: Have you considered approaching the Brazil Olympics? Or any other metropolitan areas with significant solid waste water pollution?

I think you're doing amazing work. Thanks for making the world a better place!

TheMrTrashWheel231 karma

We're currently working with Rio as well as Singapore and Bali to put in more of me.

bakerjake155 karma

Great to see this AMA! A huge fan and supporter of Mr. Trash Wheel and the Waterfront Partnership's work to help clean up my hometown Baltimore. A few questions:

1) What are the unique challenges and advantages of working in Baltimore?

2) Preventing trash from running into the harbor is key, but how can we go about cleaning up the mess that is already there?

3) Will there ever be a special someone in your life, perhaps a Mrs. Trash Wheel?

4) What are your thoughts about the new guy Trash Wheel looking to move into Canton?

TheMrTrashWheel334 karma

1) Advantages: Eating Berger Cookie wrappers. Challenges: People asking you if you've seen The Wire. 2) Well obviously I'd like to see more trash wheels. You can also reduce stormwater with rain barrels and rain gardens. 3) I'm enjoying the single life at the moment. Don't want to get pinned down. You know what I mean? 4) I couldn't be more excited. I hope he's a foodie who I can talk to about the unique flavors of each piece of waste. Have you ever tasted a two day old Coca-Cola bottle with a little seaweed lodged in it? Unbeatable flavor.

MajorMajorObvious154 karma

How does the trash wheel work in simple terms?

TheMrTrashWheel230 karma

The best way to really understand me is to see me in action:


Panwall142 karma

Is there anything you have cleaned up that need to be reported to law enforcement?

TheMrTrashWheel544 karma

I didn't see anything.

Dalaim0mma141 karma

Do you separate the recyclables from trash? How much organic matter do you collect inadvertently?

TheMrTrashWheel234 karma

Eating organic matter is part of my job. It keeps excess nutrients out of the Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. I would love to recycle, but the City doesn't currently have the technology to sort out my recyclables from all the other things I eat.

Osobipolar121 karma

what's the most valuable thing you have found? Like a diamond ring or an apple watch?

TheMrTrashWheel253 karma

I did get the deposit for that beer keg I ate last November: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k0VS_L_De0

TheSlurryBaron113 karma

What are your annual operating costs, and how many honey hams do you think you could you remove from the harbour in a year?

TheMrTrashWheel243 karma

We operate at about $130,000 a year. An average honey ham is about 16lbs. We average about 22 tons a month which is 44,000 lbs. Divide that by 16lbs, and multiply the answer by 12 months and you get about 33,000 whole honey hams in a year give or take.

Talltimore99 karma

That comes to 90.41 hams per day, or 3.77 hams per hour, or a delicious, garbage-soaked honey-ham every 15 to 16 minutes!

TheMrTrashWheel89 karma

That sounds about right, but it all depends on the strength of the current and type and volume of the other garbage in the mix. If we had a heavy downpour that number could go up to 5 or 6 pounds per hour but if it's been a while since the last rain the other garbage could clog the works and bring the average down to 2 or 3. It's all relative.

BipolarPig110 karma

Hello Mr. Trash Wheel! What is your education background and what made you want to pursue it? I am starting university this spring and plan to major in environmental science.

TheMrTrashWheel442 karma

I was just kind of born into the Trash Wheel lifestyle. My father was a garbage truck and my mother was a river boat: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CBwBDkTWYAEYzNY.jpg:large

kraytex104 karma

As someone who lives, kayaks, and hikes in the Baltimore area I want to thank you for all that you're doing.

Is there anything that we can do to help eliminate the litter, especially in areas outside of your reach such as the Patapsco River?

TheMrTrashWheel350 karma

Support the plastic bag ban, avoid plastic altogether for that matter. Give smokers dirty looks. Support a bottle deposit bill. Convince Donald Trump to switch to organic hair care products.

GrayOne96 karma

While I'm sure the trash wheel makes the water look nicer because there isn't as much garbage floating on the top of it, aren't the real problems that make the harbor unswimmable sewage leaks, agricultural run off, and decades of industrial pollution?

TheMrTrashWheel169 karma

Cleaning up the trash is only part of the solution. Repairing our City's failing sewer system is essential for making the Harbor safe for swimming and I'm proud to be part of the team at www.HealthyHarbor.org that is making that happen.

Immo40696 karma

Great ama! When I saw the thread a week ago my question was:

Is that trash weight or trash and water weight?

TheMrTrashWheel156 karma

By the time my dumpsters reach the scales most of the water has drained off.

Chizwick87 karma

How do we know you're really a "Mr." ?

TheMrTrashWheel280 karma

I did streak naked through Baltimore Harbor a few weeks ago. There wasn't much left to the imagination, if you know what I mean.

TheReconRacoon77 karma

I work in the San Diego Bay for the Navy. How do we go about getting our own Mr. Trash Wheel?

TheMrTrashWheel66 karma

reach out to my friends at http://www.clearwatermills.com/

cursethedarkness75 karma

Do you think that there may come a point when trash wheels could tackle the great pacific garbage patch?

TheMrTrashWheel121 karma

Abso - freakin' - loutely.

TheMrTrashWheel4 karma

Abso - freakin' - loutely.

TheMrTrashWheel4 karma

Abso - freakin' - loutely.

PartyMonsterAdore71 karma

What self improvements do you see yourself making so that you can collect more garbage in the future, Mr. Trash Wheel?

Side note: I'm a big fan of your work.

TheMrTrashWheel110 karma

I would say one of my biggest goals is reproduction, but I need help! http://www.cantonwaterwheel.com/

jwalker1666 karma

How many fish have accidentally been caught? Were there any negative effects that you did not foresee going into this project?

TheMrTrashWheel122 karma

Fish have swam up on my conveyor but I haven't really caught one yet. Mostly I just eat smelly, long dead, fish. I can't really think of any negative effects. I guess I'm that good.

cali-viking64 karma

Its design is targeted towards harbors, which is a great start for cleaning our waters. However, do you see yourself creating a design for ocean clean up? Is it feasible to have these patrolling our oceans in the near future (at most 5 years)?

TheMrTrashWheel132 karma

The streams and riverways are the last best places to pick up trash (the first best place is when it leaves your hand). Once it gets to open water it is incredibly difficult catch, even for an attractive, trash saavy water wheels like myself.

Aximill59 karma

Resident of Baltimore here. I know you're part of the effort to make the Inner Harbor of Baltimore "fishable+swimmable" by 2020. 1) Does the timeline still look feasible? 2) Are those floating wetlands going to be expanded upon?

TheMrTrashWheel100 karma

1) Swimmable and fishable by 2020 is feasible depending on how much people want to see it happen. Get involved and we can do it. And though technically I'm not exactly what you would consider "alive" - I swim in the harbor every day and I'm fine. 2) There are some exciting new environmental projects on the horizon.

SpecialAgentBanana28 karma

How in the world are you typing this?

TheMrTrashWheel98 karma

Would you believe I swallowed an iPhone?

ujustgotjammed25 karma

Do you pick up trash from the bottom of the harbor or is it just stuff that floats on the surface? Maybe I missed the explanation in the video.

TheMrTrashWheel51 karma

If it floats down the river, I'm gonna eat it. My trash booms extend about two feet below the surface. Anything lower than that is out of my reach.

KingStinkStar24 karma

Hello Mr. Trash Wheel. Do you think you would like to take a break and visit the presidential debates? Lots of trash there too.

TheMrTrashWheel107 karma


dunkybones12 karma

Are you looking forward to the possibility of getting googley eyes? Or is it better that you not see what's really going on?

TheMrTrashWheel14 karma

Trash wheels actually have secret hidden eyes they use to see. Googley eyes would simply be for aesthetic purposes.

nuuvem_token9 karma

Do you eat organic? You seem very fit.

DPLaVay11 karma

He swims a lot.

TheMrTrashWheel31 karma

Pssh, do you even lift bro?

pyro50506 karma

How do you work? is the technology used to run you controlled by one company or is this something that a dedicated smaller community could look at building for their river/lake what have you?

TheMrTrashWheel13 karma

www.clearwatermills.com takes care of me, but they are also helping other cities learn how raise Trash Wheels of their own.

rents173 karma

Don't you think you are wasting energy in the sense you are using solar power to turn the wheel using water and gravity?

Why not use an electrical motor to rotate the wheel directly?

TheMrTrashWheel15 karma

The river is always providing additional power to turn my water wheel, so I don't run only on solar power.

TheMostHuman2 karma

Oh great and terrible trash wheel, what are your thoughts on a plastic bag ban in Baltimore City? They make a huge mess, but would you miss these delicious--and ubiquitous--trashy treats?

TheMrTrashWheel4 karma

Contrary to popular belief plastic bags are not, I repeat, ARE NOT delicious. I whole heartedly support the plastic bag ban in Baltimore City and throughout the civilized universe.