Living in California, where recycling is encouraged and rewarded, 7-year-old Ryan Hickman developed a passion for recycling when he was just a toddler. What started out as an obsession with sorting things, first the cans and bottles then the change he got in exchange for recycling, quickly turned into so much more.
After his first experience with the recycling program, where he earned maybe a few dollars according to his dad, Ryan went home and immediately said he wanted to sort through his neighbors’ trash to find recyclable items. His parents encouraged this new venture and even delivered garbage bags to the neighbors in order to help with the plan.
Ryan now has his very own small business, called Ryan’s Recycling Company, which services half a dozen neighborhoods and includes several dozen customers. The company (which consists of Ryan and his immediate family) picks up trash and even allows people to schedule pick ups if they live in Orange County, CA so they can contribute to his cause. The family packs up their truck every few weeks and takes everything down to the recycling center to cash in.
“He’s very passionate about it, and he likes to get everybody else passionate about it as well,” Andrea, his mother, told The Capistrano Dispatch. “I think he’s rubbed off on all of us now. You find yourself walking past a can on the ground and needing to pick it up instead of walking away and leaving it there.”
To date, Ryan has recycled 204,000 cans and bottles, which amounts to 50,000 pounds, and has donated $1,824 to charity. The 7-year-old has pocketed some of the cash, however it’s going to a good cause as well. About $10,000 of the collected money has been put into a college fund for Ryan, although apparently he says it will go towards a full-size trash truck when he’s older.
Ryan has also branched out a bit and become a Youth Ambassador for Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which is located in Laguna Beach. He sells shirts on his websites that promote recycling and all proceeds support the center.
Ultimately, what Ryan is doing for his community and the environment is amazing and speaks volumes of the great human being he is growing up to be. The only thing more exciting than his passion and continuous efforts is the potential he has to effect change in the world when he’s an adult.
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