Baltimore harbor has become a toxic, polluted environmental garbage dump, but the city has a plan.
Each year, millions of gallons of sewage, hundreds of tons of trash, stormwater, and other undesirable waste block up the harbor—making it an unhealthy habitat for humans and marine life.
As a part of Baltimore’s cleanup operation, local Baltimore resident John Kellett invented Mr. Trash Wheel—a trash-skimming water wheel that entraps rubbish as it tries to enter Baltimore harbor.
Get one in every river immediately
Nai-post ni VT noong Martes, Pebrero 28, 2017
To encourage people to recycle their rubbish, the ingenious idea of making Mr. Trash a celebrity was a hit, and the Healthy Harbor team cultivated his image through social media. This proved hugely successful in engaging people on environmental issues.
Other than its celebrity status, Mr. Trash Wheel has a fun personality. The garbage wheel is googly-eyed and is quite active on Twitter with over 18,000 followers.
“Mr. Trash Wheel helps to connect the dots and helps residents understand the impact of their actions,” said Rebecca Woods, executive director of Baltimore’s Environmental Control Board, according to PBS News Hour.
“Mr. Trash Wheel provides a point of education for upstream efforts in helping residents understand what happens to trash that enters streets and then storm drains,” Woods added.
In 2009, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore—which consists of property owners, city officials, non-profits and citizens—launched the Healthy Harbor Plan (pdf) with the aim of creating a “healthy, swimmable and fishable environment by 2020.”
The plan was initiated in response to an overly polluted harbor that has seen trash, human sewage, and stormwater runoff turn the once-pristine waters into a unsightly and bacteria-filled garbage dump. Broken and leaky sewer lines and an old stormwater management system have contributed to Baltimore’s polluted harbor.
A 2008 survey found that citizens of Baltimore knew their water was dirty, but weren’t sure how it happened.
“While trash, sewage, and stormwater runoff are the major sources of pollution in the Harbor and its tributaries, the lack of public awareness about these issues is itself a major obstacle to improving water quality,” according to the Healthy Harbor Plan (pdf).
“The majority of people want to help improve water quality, but they need guidance on personal actions that matter and reassurance that their actions will have a meaningful impact.”
This Healthy Harbor Plan—apart from directly cleaning up the harbor—aims to educate the public about the sources of pollution in the harbor and include citizens in the cleanup process.
“Seeing trash and litter is devastating to my 7 year old, and he regularly tells people to pick up their trash when he sees someone litter,” Woods said.
“Mr. Trash Wheel is that friendly face that provides my son comfort that trash will be blocked from entering the harbor. To my son, Mr. Trash Wheel is a hero.”
The best solution for cleaning the ocean from trashCredit: Mr. Trash Wheel
Nai-post ni Blunt Kommunity noong Sabado, Enero 13, 2018
Mr. Trash has collected a huge amount of rubbish from the harbor since his placement in 2014—more than 700 metric tons in fact.
“We’ve picked up 16 dumpsters of trash during a single rainstorm,” Adam Lindquist, director of the Healthy Harbor Initiative, said at the 2018 Ocean Symposium at Duke University.
What happens to all the rubbish collected by Mr. Trash Wheel? It is fed into incinerators and burned to produce electricity. A light bulb idea, you could say!
Due to the overwhelming success of Mr. Trash Wheel and US$550,000 having been raised, Professor Trash Wheel came into existence. She’s located in Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood and works on picking up rubbish from Harris Creek. Just like her other family member, she too has a Twitter account.