Ryan Hickman began recycling when he was just 3.5 years old. Now at 11, he has recycled over 1 million cans and bottles.
During environmental education classes in school, all of us were taught the sustainability mantra of reuse, reduce, and recycle. While most of us have tossed these teachings away after growing up, there are some who still make it a point to follow this simple yet important concept. Then there's the other exceptional group of people for whom following this notion religiously is a way of life. That's the life chosen by Ryan Hickman, who understands the significance of even the smallest actions towards the conservation of the environment. Ryan was quite young when he began accompanying his father on his daily trips to a local recycling center. Today, he has established a successful recycling company and he is just 11!
The young boy was just three when he first came across the concept of recycling in 2012. It didn't take him long to realize that recycling was something he was very passionate about. He then told his parents that he wanted to distribute empty plastic bags to all his neighbors so that they could store their recyclable items in them and hand them to him. With the help of his parents, Ryan managed to get bottles and cans saved by not only his neighbors but also their supportive families, friends, and co-workers. Per his website, Ryan's Recycling Company, he currently had customers spread across Orange County in California.
Now, the ambitious boy is 11 years of age and his company is standing tall. What's more, Ryan is the CEO, manager, and employee of it. The youngster spends a considerable amount of time every week sorting cans and bottles from the recyclable items that his customers hand him so that it is prepared to go to the recycling center. Speaking to Power of Positivity, the young boy revealed, "I have recycled over 1 million cans and bottles, and I started recycling when I was 3.5 years old. Now I’m 11, so that was 8 years of recycling."
So what drives Ryan to continue doing this? Well, for the 11-year-old the fact that his actions help keep the environment clean is enough motivation to keep him going. His father, Damion Hickman, shared that Ryan has raised more than $10,000 by the age of seven which would be used towards his college education. "Yeah, but I want to buy a truck," said the boy, expressing plans of his own. He wished to use the money to purchase a full-size trash truck and eventually become a garbage man. That being said, the money is in his college account for now.
In an interview with CNN, Damion said, "My wife and I support him doing it and we told him that whenever he wants to stop, he can. I want to see him with friends but the recycling just makes him happy. He's actually recruited his friends now so it's Ryan and five of his friends helping Mr. Jose, who is the janitor at Ryan's school. Even at school, Ryan's favorite activity is helping Mr. Jose, separate the trash." Ryan, who volunteers with Recycle Across America, expressed, "I think it's super important that we take care of our planet, and we all can make a big difference when we work together."
"That's why I've partnered up with Recycle Across America-- to help everyone understand how to recycle right!" he continued. Through his website, Ryan also sells T-shirts, the proceeds of which goes to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. During an interview with Points of Light, Ryan explained how everyone can do their part to keep our environment clean. "Something they could do is probably pick up trash if they see it on the ground. If they’re drinking Coke, make sure they recycle the beverage container instead of throwing it away. Maybe do a beach cleanup. Help a local charity. Things like that," he said.
Ryan hopes to launch a nonprofit for "recycling awareness" soon. "I just want to start it because I feel like the beach cleanups do that, and people could donate money to help me get equipment for beach cleanups and stuff separate to Ryan’s Recycling," he added. He also wishes to travel to different parts of the world to help people recycle better.