Wheels in Motion

A secret society fights the tyranny of trash.

Micah Castelo - June 2018

Mr. Trash Wheel Gets a Secret Society

A secret society fights the tyranny of trash.

Micah Castelo - June 2018

-Illustration by Ghostbat

Baltimore’s favorite trash wheel has it all: a daily diet of litter, a namesake beer from Peabody Heights Brewery, and now, a not-so-secret national society dedicated to ridding the world of trash.

Inspired by Mr. Trash Wheel—the downtown water wheel that captures debris from the Jones Falls River—and its thousands of internet fans, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore has launched a social media campaign to muster grassroots environmental action. This March, with the help of grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Order of the Wheel was born.

The exclusive club comes with a fictional centuries-old backstory and benefits like a secret handshake, special merchandise, and quirky code names such as Garbage McTrashface and Barnacle Churnerton. But joining is not so easy; applicants have to be selected by a board of “Great Grand Wheelers” to become a pledge. Then, pledges have to complete five assigned tasks—like decorating oil receptacles and purging plasticware—and share their completed missions on social media with the hashtag #OrderOfTheWheel to be inducted as an official member. So far, there are more than 1,600 people pledging across the U.S.

Zoe Ubaldo, a special education teacher at Gilmor Elementary School in Sandtown-Winchester, pledged to learn more about local environmental issues, even encouraging her fourth and fifth grade students to get involved by collecting litter on school grounds. “I made it a game, where the more trash they picked up, the more playtime they got afterward,” she says. “They were annoyed with how much litter had accumulated, but they were excited to help clean up.”

After the induction ceremony this spring, members will act as ambassadors within their communities to create clean, trash-free environments. “After all,” says Allison Fomich, who is pledging to inspire eco-conscious habits in others, “our voices and efforts have more impact when we’re together.”





You May Also Like


Charmed Life

The Secret Rooms in Maryland’s Luxury Hotels They Don’t Tell You About

Get a glimpse of these private penthouses and ornate suites.

Travel & Outdoors

Smooth Sailing

Solar-powered pirate ships invade the Inner Harbor.

The Chatter

Is It Really Just Like Riding a Bike?

How biking made my confidence collapse and then inflate again.


The Chatter

Lord Baltimore Hotel to Participate in World’s Largest Ghost Hunt

On September 29, ghost hunters will explore haunted rooms of the historic hotel.

In Good Taste

Writer Renee Brooks Catacalos Discusses Benefits of Chesapeake Cuisine

Author of The Chesapeake Table to talk about the joys of local food and what makes eating in Baltimore so special.

Food & Drink

Fair Play

The Maryland State Fair sticks to its agricultural roots while adapting to the modern times.

-Illustration by Ghostbat

Connect With Us

Most Read


Baltimore Police Mounted Unit to Add Horses and State-of-the-Art Stable: City officials broke ground on $2.5 million stable at B&O Railroad Museum.

Governor Larry Hogan Tops Ben Jealous by 22 Points in New Poll: More than half of likely voters say they support the incumbent Republican governor.

Gundalow Juice Stops Production to Focus on Catering Services: CEO and founder Dana Sicko discusses the next chapter with Gundalow Gourmet.

Maryland Film Festival's Jed Dietz to Retire: Dietz shepherded the growth of the festival and the launch of the Parkway Theatre.

Are the Orioles and Adam Jones Headed For a Bad Breakup?: Fan favorite benched again last night as forgettable season nears end.