BALTIMORE — He's been sitting next to the Pier Six pavilion for eight years, never budging from his spot at the mouth of the Jones Falls.
With his signature googly eyes, Mr. Trash Wheel gently scoops up tons of trash that flows from the Jones Falls into the Baltimore Harbor.
"Eight years of Mr. Trash Wheel means that we’ve picked up over 2,000 tons of trash and debris out of the Baltimore Harbor," said Adam Lindquist, the VP of Programs and Environmental Initiatives at Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore (WPB).
Over the years, just about anything and everything has ended up on Mr. Trash Wheel's conveyor belt, including lots of sports balls, a beer keg, guitar and a ball python.
There's also the more typical trash like plastic bags and food containers. Lindquist said the number one piece of trash collected by Mr. Trash Wheel is cigarette butts.
"Its kind of not surprising. That’s a piece of litter that you can walk around any day and see people throwing cigarette butts out of their cars and onto the ground," said Lindquist. "When it rains, those cigarette butts get washed into our waterways and Mr. Trash Wheel eats them up."
Mr. Trash Wheel is likely the most popular trash interceptor in the world, with tens of thousands of followers on social media. WPB credits his engaging social media persona with changing people's behaviors about recycling and changing legislation.
"[That includes] the ban on plastic bags here in Baltimore City and the statewide ban on foam containers, which are reducing the amount of trash Mr. Trash Wheel has to eat in the first place," Lindquist said.
Mr. Trash Wheel is not alone in his crusade to clean up Baltimore's waterways. Three more trash wheels have been added to the family, including Professor Trash Wheel, Captain Trash Wheel and the newest addition, Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West.
And this technology is going international. Lindquist said the company that invented Mr. Trash Wheel, Clearwater Mills, is creating one in Panama City, Panama.
"Everyday I get emails from folks around the world who want to bring this technology to the rivers and streams of other cities," said Lindquist. "It's a Baltimore invention, invented by John Kellet, a Baltimore guy, and now that invention is going international."
Come celebrate Mr. Trash Wheel's birthday on Saturday April 23 at Pierce's Park near Pier 6 pavilion. There will be dessert, entertainment and live pythons. Tickets are required for the event. For information on how to buy a ticket, or make a donation, click here.