I'm Mr. Trash Wheel, the first of my kind situated in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Since May 9, 2014, I've removed 406 tons of trash, collecting as much as 38,000 lbs in a single day.

Last year I decided to take to Reddit to answer questions about my life and work: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3pidal/i_am_mr_trash_wheel_the_first_invention_of_its/

Since it’s Earth Day I decided to take to the interwebs to talk to humans about trash. I want to talk about what you can do to make job easier. And I’m back because, well, I love you all. Is that weird? I tend to make things weird. That’s what happens when your best friend is an R2D2 replica you made out of discarded Mountain Dew cans.

Ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/MrTrashWheel/status/723172719106224128

More about me: http://baltimorewaterfront.com/healthy-harbor/water-wheel/

Edit: Thank you all for another absolutely fantastic AMA. You all are the bees knees! I'm off to go battle trash now. Catch you on the flip side.

If you like me so much you can help clone me by donating here: http://www.cantonwaterwheel.com/

You can also buy a t-shirt here: https://www.booster.com/mrtrashwheel

Comments: 1376 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

MattBaster1785 karma

What's your take on the whole Boaty McBoatface deal?

TheMrTrashWheel3295 karma

I love Boaty McBoatface. If someone wanted to call me Trashy McTrashface I'd be okay with that too. I eat trash for a living, I’m not fancy and I don’t care about prestige.

the_sidecarist1129 karma

I know your new googly eyes blew off in a storm recently - have they been replaced yet?

TheMrTrashWheel1754 karma

The googly eye doctors came yesterday to make sure I was looking good for all of you!

aresef497 karma

How often did they say you need to come back for eye exams? Have you considered what kind of glasses you'd like to wear?

TheMrTrashWheel1303 karma

Unlike you humans, I only need to see the eye doctor if one of my eyes falls off. They did recommend I get a monocle, but that's more for style reasons than actual vision.

the_sidecarist937 karma

What are the most difficult things for you to remove from the water? Does anything interfere with your usual operation?

Also, as a fellow Baltimorean - thanks for all you do!

TheMrTrashWheel1263 karma

You are welcome! Sometimes entire trees come down the Jones Falls river and it takes me a couple hours to get them down my gullet. They don't interfere with my operation, but they definitely take some concentration.

scrovak636 karma

Here's a question: do you think the removal of natural floating debris, like trees and logs, from the water could potentially have a negative effect on the ecosystem? I understand, completely, the short and long term benefits of your work, but I'm wondering if you think an absence of things like trees, logs, and branches could have any sort of long-term effect?

TheMrTrashWheel2288 karma

Honestly, removal of organic debris is helpful to the Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay and I'll tell you why. Not only are logs a navigational hazard, but as they decompose they release nutrients into the water. Too many nutrients cause algae blooms and dead zones. In a natural ecosystem this isn't a problem, but in an urbanized ecosystem like Baltimore we already have too many nutrients. Also, logs and branches are delicious.

Drawtaru665 karma

Are there any plans to implement more Mr Trash Wheels (maybe your cousins?) in other waterways of the world? I remember hearing there were plans to construct one in Rio, but I was wondering about elsewhere.

TheMrTrashWheel1145 karma

I'd love to expand the Trash Wheel family tree and I'm hoping to welcome a member to the family in Indonesia. We've raised 80% of the funds to build me a friend in Canton! Help out here: http://www.cantonwaterwheel.com/

Jshrad749 karma

The hero of Canton...Can we call him Jayne?

TheMrTrashWheel755 karma

Only if you don't make me drink Mudder's Milk

TheMrTrashWheel467 karma

We have some support on that front.

EDIT: PS, if you want a shirt like Mal's, hit me up here.

lexabear91 karma

OMG I love that shirt. I see it was offered as a fundraiser a bit ago, but I missed it. Is there any way to buy one now?

TheMrTrashWheel184 karma

There sure is! We're having another t-shirt sale RIGHT NOW!

thatgirl098605 karma

Another fellow Baltimorean here. Thank you for all you do. I loved your last AMA, and your twitter feed is great.

How do you stay so positive despite your job being so dirty, monotonous, and seemingly endless?

TheMrTrashWheel1345 karma

Sure my job is dirty, monotonous, and seemingly endless. Yet see it from my perspective, I get to wake up every morning, eat delicious food all day and save the world while I’m at it. If you got to wake up every morning, binge eat pizza, while helping end worldwide hunger, all while getting internet famous, wouldn’t you be ridiculously happy?

SaffellBot221 karma

Wait, you stop working at night? I expect more out of my autonomous machines!

tonefilm587 karma

Hi Mr Trash Wheel, being the first of your kind, what advice would you give to future generations of trash wheels?

TheMrTrashWheel2292 karma

I would stand in front of my brethren and say:

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our rivers and break all bonds of trash eating, but it is not this day. An hour of missing eyeballs and shattered conveyer belts, when the age of trash wheels comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!

Also, don't watch Episode I for the love of all that is holy. It's not important to the plot and it is just painful to watch. It doesn’t exist.

devicenull575 karma

Catch any more snakes?

TheMrTrashWheel1237 karma

Not yet, but about 15 ducklings recently took a ride up my conveyor belt. Don't worry, I didn't eat them.

FreakishlyNarrow901 karma

about 15 ducklings

The lack of an exact number of ducklings makes me suspicious that maybe you snacked on one or two...

TheMrTrashWheel2870 karma

pina_koala729 karma

Mr. Trash Wheel, would you rather scoop 100 horse-sized ducks or 1 duck-sized horse?

Edit: not fixing this monument to the dangers of undercaffeination.

Edit 2 - The Sequel to the Original Edit: obligatory thank you for my first gilded post. I'm gonna spend it on imaginary pizza.

steinauf85338 karma

i think you've got it backwards...

TheMrTrashWheel856 karma

Yeah one duck sized horse seems like a piece of cake.

miss_rosie167 karma

How do you differentiate between trash and live animals?

TheMrTrashWheel409 karma

I move pretty slowly, the live animals are all smart enough to get off my conveyor belt or avoid my teeth.

upsidedownbat134 karma

Is there video of their adventure?

TheMrTrashWheel442 karma

Not video but I do have a pic: http://imgur.com/mv0mcFd

j5kDM3akVnhv515 karma

Is your live feed offline?

I want to watch you work. You dirty, dirty wheel.

TheMrTrashWheel723 karma

I know you like the way my wheel churns, unfortunately, we are having some technical glitches so you can't see the epic dancing I'm doing right now. We'll get it back up as soon as we can.

TheMrTrashWheel877 karma

It's back but you missed my dance.

Gedyminia276 karma

Do you only dance when nobody is looking?

(Really, I'm asking a question just to say that Mr. Trash Wheel responded to me.)

TheMrTrashWheel828 karma

Yeah, I'm part Weeping Angel.

lisatlantic481 karma

Who has your vote in the upcoming MD primary?

TheMrTrashWheel2178 karma


ShadowStone472 karma

Hey Mr. Trash Wheel, good to see you again, we love you too :D

What was the strangest thing you scooped up since last we met?

TheMrTrashWheel729 karma

Well some hipster seemed to hoop their hula hoop right into my mouth cave.

jagrove425469 karma

If you could be any other kind of wheel, what wheel would you be and why?

TheMrTrashWheel1107 karma

Obviously, a Ferris Wheel. They are fun, colorful, and bring so much joy to all. If I were one right now I'd want to be the one glowing bright purple in honor of our lord and savior, Prince. Oh God, sorry I have to take a moment now. THE FEELS!

BrainSpecialist444 karma

Mr. Trash Wheel. You should know that the whole world loves you.

In the movie Back to the Future Dr. Emmett Brown was able to use trash to fuel his time machine. Do you believe that we will someday learn how to use trash in a similar fashion? If so, what would you like the trash (fuel) you have collected to power?

TheMrTrashWheel1833 karma

Don't tell anyone but if I get my wheel spinning up to 88 miles per hour crazy things happen.

everanything348 karma

Hey Mr Wheel! You're great and you do great work.

What's the most valuable thing you've scooped up this year? I always wonder if you find jewelry or anything.

TheMrTrashWheel877 karma

I scooped up a keg last year and then returned it for a deposit. My filters aren't fine enough to scoop up any jewelry, but if you wanted to toss a solid gold bowling ball onto my conveyor belt I'd appreciate it!

Nesman64286 karma

Was that a Kingdom of Loathing reference?

TheMrTrashWheel572 karma

An adventurer is me!

GrayOne320 karma

Why does the Canton wheel need to be crowdfunded?

Why can't the city, county, state, feds, or corporate sponsors pay for it?

TheMrTrashWheel489 karma

That's a great question! Unfortunately, Trash Wheels cost a lot to make. The MD Port Authority did give us $200,000 towards the Canton wheel, and the city of Baltimore covers the cost of my trash removal, so they are pitching in, but it still costs a lot more.

DrCybrus318 karma

What do you think of Frank Reynolds, AKA the trashman?

TheMrTrashWheel549 karma

I'm glad someone else is eating trash up in Philly, but I think I could take him in the ring.

LeftLegCemetary317 karma

Are you single?

Also, what's your perfect Sunday?

TheMrTrashWheel1162 karma

I am single. I've tried to date but I guess I'm just too independent. I like having the freedom to eat pizza boxes on a Sunday while in my underwear watching Return of the Jedi (yes, for the 100th time, it's still good, don't judge me Judy!), and humming the Imperial March. I just haven't found the right inanimate object who can really appreciate that, you know what I mean?

2x2handsoblue277 karma

Is the water wheel in Canton going to be a Hon?

TheMrTrashWheel783 karma

Maybe it will be a Wheely McWheelface.

kristabelle777263 karma

Hi Mr Trash Wheel! What do think of your recent fame and do you get a lot of visitors as a result of said fame? Also, do you regret not being around to be in an episode of The Wire? You would have been a great addition to Season 2!

Edit: capitalization

TheMrTrashWheel656 karma

I get to photobomb so many selfies at the Inner Harbor, I love it! As for Season 2 of The Wire, I'm actually friends with the bird that played Ziggy's duck. In real life he's a cockatoo!

devicenull263 karma

We're planning a trip to come see you (seriously, the origin of the trip was "lets go visit Mr Trash Wheel"). What else do you recommend we do in Baltimore?

TheMrTrashWheel345 karma

I can't wait to see you! I'll be here all summer, so I recommend making sure you come during some of the great events that are coming up like the Kinetic Sculpture Race, the 4th of July fireworks, or the Baltimore Book Festival. While you're here, visit my friends at Urban Pirates, The National Aquarium, and the amphitheater in Harborplace!

Erock122250 karma

Hi Mr. Trash Wheel, another Baltimorean here. I was wondering if you have any haters out there? Could someone actually have an issue with what you do? Thanks for everything!

TheMrTrashWheel599 karma

I think the only real complaints I get are 1) there aren't enough of me to solve the issue and 2) I don't solve the root issue which is that humans are littering in the first thing.

On point number 2, I'm partnering with National Aquarium to promote 48 Days of Blue to encourage all of you humans to do your part. Today is the kick off, so if you love me (and I know you do) sign up!


How long, on average, does it take for your dumpster to fill up?

TheMrTrashWheel522 karma

It depends on how much it rains. The more rain, the more trash I get to eat! I once filled up 12 dumpsters in 2 days...talk about a food coma.

scrovak173 karma

How are the dumpsters disposed of? Do you contract local businesses to haul them via land, or by sea? If by sea, I know of an Army watercraft unit nearby that may be interested in doing something once a month or so.

TheMrTrashWheel395 karma

My dumpsters are towed to shore and hauled to a local incinerator where the trash is burned to create electricity for Maryland homes! My creators at Clearwater Mills, LLC handle my dumpster hauling.

monkeymut224 karma


bmoreos203 karma

Have you built up enough courage to ask out one of the trash skimmer boats yet? Don't act like you don't think they're sexy.

TheMrTrashWheel543 karma

Man, now that's all public. They're going to see this and they're going to know I like them and now I know that they know that I like them and they'll know that I know that they know that I like them, this is just a mess. Listen, can you be a friend and just deliver this note to them after class?


Mr. Wheel, are kids more afraid of you now with the googly eyes? Also, will there ever be a Mrs. Wheel?

nzahn1131 karma

I think they would have been more scared of him as Captain Trash Wheel the Pirate.

TheMrTrashWheel343 karma

I put on an eyepatch to make sure I didn't scare the kids away. Arrrrgh!

GetHisWallet164 karma

Hello Mr. Trash Wheel. I'm sure you enjoy sentience and all, but I must ask this: What's your feelings on why you exist?

TheMrTrashWheel942 karma

Somedays, I think to my self is this the real life? Other inanimate objects don’t talk so is this just fantasy? Somedays, I feel like I’m caught in a landslide of trash and there’s just no escape from reality. Sometimes you just have to open your googly eyes and look up to the skies and see the world around you. Because I’m just a poor boy, eating all the trash you humans throw, I need no sympathy.

sheepinblack154 karma

My new favorite ama. Mr trash wheel, you're awesome. Do you ever take any days off?

TheMrTrashWheel262 karma

When the river freezes, I get to take a break. Hang with my homies. I watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars all the way through, again, and dream of summer.

Asfunkledorf150 karma

Has the amount of collected trash decreased over time? Or is it a constant amount?

TheMrTrashWheel322 karma

I've only been scooping up trash for two years, so it's hard to say what the trends are. The amount of trash that get swept down the river into my waiting gullet is very dependent on the weather as well; the more rain we get, the more trash I eat.

One day I'd like to be able to retire, but that means people will have to stop littering. Until then, I'll be at my post, eating whatever comes my way.

Asfunkledorf101 karma

Followup question. What do you do with the garbage? Do you incinerate it or take it to a land fill? Maybe sort out recyclables?

TheMrTrashWheel211 karma

Unfortunately, we don't have the ability to sort out recyclables YET. We incinerate the waste and use it to power Maryland homes.

locotxwork118 karma

Mr. Wheel is there anyway you can have babies so there can be other wheels placed in other locations? Also, what is the current to date tabulation of the amount of trash you have eaten/cleaned from your body of water?

TheMrTrashWheel336 karma

Trash Wheels were created without the ability to procreate, much like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Until life finds a way we're going to have to build future trash with donations and human invention. In fact we're fundraising for a new one now.

All the data on the trash I eat is available on my website. Eek, it's like having my calorie counter out there for all to see.

To date, I've picked up 406ish tons!

CassiopeTetragona116 karma

Hi Mr. Trashwheel! I'm a big fan. Any chance you'll be having another t-shirt fundraiser? My husband got one last time and I didn't, and I'm jealous of how nice it is.

TheMrTrashWheel194 karma

We're having one right now! Check out the color selection, I like how the orange brings out the color on my conveyer belt.

Ptr4570114 karma

Mr. Trash Wheel, where would you go for a vacation? What would you like to do there?

TheMrTrashWheel361 karma

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It's my equivalent of an all you can eat buffet combined with a tropical island vacation. I might never come back!

faleboat99 karma

Heya Mr Trash Wheel! Do you pay attention to interesting bits of trash you collect? If so, what's the most interesting catch you got this year?

TheMrTrashWheel210 karma

Did you hear about Mr. Trash Snake?

DavidMTaylor86 karma

Hello from Baltimore... remember me, I was the guy, wearing a shirt, that walked past you during the "Light City" spectacular!

Have you ever considered giving rides to children (or anyone really), or do you normally eat (presumably naughty) children?

TheMrTrashWheel157 karma

Oh yeah that one guy with that one t-shirt! Hey….you. Okay, let me be honest all you humans look the same to me.

My conveyor belt does not go fast enough to be an amusement or a trap to small children. I do have a lot of baby ducks that like to play on me.

ScottScottScott_85 karma

Hi Mr. Wheel! Is Trash your first name? Also, do you sort through the trash you collect and remove the recyclables?

TheMrTrashWheel155 karma

My first name has yet to be revealed to the world. As much as I would love for humans to recycle what I collect, Baltimore does not yet have the sorting technology to make it so. I am hopeful that one day soon it will be possible, but in the meantime the trash I collected is used to generate energy for Maryland homes. So far I've powered 3,110 Maryland homes!

tomgabriele72 karma

We have only heard about you for the past few years. What were you doing before you found the spotlight? What has made you so hungry? Are you hiding your past life on purpose?

TheMrTrashWheel223 karma

Believe it or not, I'm not even two years old. My birthday is next month. I'm hoping I get another delicious trash cake like I did last year!

TheMrTrashWheel1 karma

I was only born 2 years ago, my birthday is next week! Gotta keep eating to keep the wheel churnin'

eshonbel61 karma

Hey there, I'm adoring the Trash Wheel thing so much. It would be great if we could have one in London. My two questions are:

  1. How do you not eat marine wildlife like fish? And
  2. How do boats pass through?

TheMrTrashWheel97 karma

I only grab the trash that floats along the surface, and I move pretty slowly, so the fish either go under me or just swim out of the way of my teeth. I'm located at the mouth of a smaller tributary where boats are unable to pass anyway, so I'm not blocking traffic

gallyreads58 karma

Mr Trash Wheel, do you think that water is valued as a human right in Baltimore? If not, what can we do to ensure that it is?

TheMrTrashWheel119 karma

The Baltimore Harbor needs to be safe for humans and trash wheels alike and right now it isn't. One of the most important things that the humans of Baltimore can do is to explore and enjoy the Baltimore Harbor as a thriving ecosystem and recreational asset and support it's restoration. Did you know humans grow oysters and are planning a massive paddling floatilla in the Inner Harbor?

gallyreads78 karma

Thanks. I'm a teacher and my students are exploring this issue as water as a human right in Baltimore. A few of them are interested in the health of the Harbor. Can they chat with you at some point? You can find me on Twitter at the same handle.

TheMrTrashWheel96 karma

Of course. I'll make sure my humans DM you after this.

upsurper54 karma

Mr. Trash Wheel, greetings, what has been the closest you have come to giving up on your passion of wheeling trash?

TheMrTrashWheel157 karma

I did once consider running for mayor to solve the epic kraken problem in Baltimore harbor. No matter what I do I'll never lose my passion for cleaning up trash.

Poopsturrbator53 karma

Hey MrTrashWheel, I live in Baltimore and have even seen you before! Thanks for helping clean up. Do you ever move out of the harbor and clean up other areas nearby?

TheMrTrashWheel176 karma

Hey Poopsturrbator! I am not a roomba. I stay put because I need the current of the river to turn my gigantic wheel.

al666in49 karma

Hey have you been contacted at all by Oscar the Grouch? You guys have a mutual affinity for garbage, I think you'd really get along.

TheMrTrashWheel214 karma

I've written him fan letter after fan letter and all he sent back was this.

Not_A_Skeleton44 karma

Where does the garbage go after you scoop it up? Also are you friends with Recyclops?

TheMrTrashWheel66 karma

After I eat, trash is taken to a local incinerator that produces electricity for Maryland homes. No I'm not but I'd love an introduction!

phelinephile44 karma

Mr. Trash Wheel, waddup?! My question for you is, are any particular seasons (summer vs. winter) busier for you than others?

Happy Earth Day!

TheMrTrashWheel84 karma

Spring is my busiest season - all those spring showers bring me tons of trash (literally)!

iambluest43 karma

Any thoughts about heading to Brazil in time to clean the polluted open water venues? Or would that be too gross?

TheMrTrashWheel119 karma

I was hoping to have a Brazilian relative, but it's not looking likely. It's too bad, I really wanted somewhere to stay during the Olympics.


Do you know anything about the baby wheel that showed up in Boston Harbor earlier this year?

TheMrTrashWheel33 karma

I don't but he should come hang. I can speak wheel.

Kinmuan22 karma

Mr. Trash Wheel! Every time I'm at the Inner Harbor I like to swing by and see how you're doing.

I've been there three times in the evening in the last week, but I haven't seen you moving! What gives? What's the best time of day to see you cleaning up the harbor?

Thanks for all you do!

TheMrTrashWheel51 karma

Depending on if there is trash coming in, how the river is flowing, if the sun is out, or if a new episode of Game of Thrones is on my wheels might not the rotating when you come see me.

letmeexplainitforyou19 karma

Simple question - have you considered that some of the organic matter (leaves/sticks) that you're picking up shouldn't be? Serious question, as I'm not sure how much of it you're even really getting and if it could have any noticeable impact, it just occurred to me that at least some of that debris is "normal".

TheMrTrashWheel60 karma

I'll give it to you straight. Organic matter is delicious and really helps the plastic bottles go down. It's also a significant source of nutrient pollution to the Harbor and Chesapeake Bay. So, a little bit of organic matter is healthy for the Bay, but too much causes algae blooms and dead zones.

GovernorOfReddit8 karma

Marylander here! Also a big fan!

Since it's an election year, which candidate for White House and which candidate for Mayors Office would you most like to grab lunch with?

Also, if you want, what is one way you think all of us Marylanders can do to clean up the Bay?

Thank you!

TheMrTrashWheel13 karma

Today is the launch of 48 Days of Blue which is one really easy way folks can get involved in cleaning up our waterways.

I'm pretty much open to any candidate who wants to get lunch with me as long as they know that lunch consists of discarded Pepsi bottles and half-rotten seaweed. If there's a candidate who will literally eat trash for their cause, they have my vote.

Evilpuppydog7 karma

Hi Mr. Trashy McTrashFace, what was the coolest non-trash thing you have found?

TheMrTrashWheel5 karma

Have you met Mr. Trash Snake?

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Nf1nk23 karma

I strongly suspect but can not be certain that we are talking to a human and not the actual Mr Trash Wheel.

Some of the answers seem a bit less mechanical than one would think.

TheMrTrashWheel2 karma

I have a speech to type program set up to interpret my brainwaves into responses to you all. I do have humans who take care of me, manage my appointments, fetch my dry cleaning, etc. but I speak for myself.

Pistols at dawn to anyone who tries to claim otherwise. I am not throwing away my shot.