31 Days of Happiness Countdown: the googly-eyed river barge that eats litter. (Day 16)

Thanks for stopping by for Day 16 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! If this is your first visit, here's the gist: Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and laughter into your life. It's been a challenging year, so why not end it on a high note? Check back tomorrow (or click the links at the bottom) for another installment!

Picking up trash isn't the most glamorous job, but it is an important one. In Baltimore's Inner Harbor, that effort is led by a wise-cracking, anthropomorphic, googly-eyed conveyor belt named Mr. Trash Wheel. At a time when America is gearing up to make coal smog its national bird and give oil companies unfettered access to public lands, it's hard not to feel a tiny twinge of hope that one city now sports a 16-foot-long floating dumpster whose job it is to eat litter. Not to mention, he's awesome.


I mean ... just look at him:

Photo by Dicklyon/Wikimedia Commons.

Mr. Trash Wheel was installed in 2014 by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. So far, he's cleaned up over 1 million pounds of refuse from the city's waterways. His heroics have inspired T-shirts, dozens of Halloween costumes, a beer, several Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories, and even a tribute song.

If you don't live in Baltimore, you should follow him on Twitter, where he makes waterway conservation weird and hilarious on a daily basis.

In December 2016, the Waterfront Partnership installed a second garbage collector, named Professor Trash Wheel, expanding the trash clean-up effort further down the harbor.

Her up-river colleague welcomed her with open arms.

Thanks to the project's success, other cities have begun installing similar devices. Mr. Trash Wheel, naturally, is a big fan — but occasionally offers some unsolicited notes.

Getting people invested in the tireless work of conservation is no mean feat. For managing to make the process of hauling empty beer bottles, used tires, and the occasional pet snake out of the water 1,000% more entertaining, Mr. Trash Wheel earned national respect, local hero status, and a fanatically devoted following.

Your holiday season will be a billion times more magical if you hitch a ride on the Trash Wheel bandwagon.

More days of happiness here: DAY 1 / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / [DAY 16] / DAY 17 / DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31
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