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.

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When a group of local business leaders decided to make the Baltimore harbor fishable and swimmable by 2020, they quickly realized they needed to get weird.

"We wanted to install a device that would immediately reduce the amount of trash going into the Baltimore harbor," explains Adam Lindquist, director of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore's Healthy Harbor Initiative.

The solution came from local sailor and inventor John Kellett who, after years of noticing trash floating in the Jones Falls River, had installed a pilot "trash wheel" in the harbor in 2008. The Waterfront Partnership commissioned a permanent version that sits at the mouth of the river, scooping up discarded plastic on a solar-powered conveyor belt and depositing it into a series of dumpsters.

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Natasha Rossi believed she had the perfect life.

She had two awesome kids — two and a half-year-old identical twins — and the love and support of her boyfriend, Desi. Life, she thought, could only get better.

All photos via Upworthy/Walgreens.

Then, in January 2019, she was hit with some of the hardest news that anyone can hear.

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What do you do with your free time? 17-year-old Destiny Watford spends hers saving her neighborhood.

Destiny lives in Baltimore, a city where more people die from air pollution than homicide — and the homicide rate is nothing to scoff at.

This isn’t an exaggeration; it’s a reality. And the people who live there deal with it every day.

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