Green Champions

The 7-year-old boy saving the planet with his recycling business


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Ryan Hickman, from Orange County in California, was only a toddler when he first went to his local recycling centre with his dad. He cashed in some plastic bottles and cans, then the next day, he told his parents that he wanted to start his own recycling company!

He told his parents that he wanted to give some plastic bags to his neighbours, so they could give him their recyclables too. The neighbours did just that, but so did their friends, family, and co-workers.

Ryan’s recycling

Ryan’s Recycling Company started from those humble roots, and 4 years later, it has recycled 49,000lbs of waste, and has expanded to 5 other neighbourhoods in Orange County.

His passion for recycling shows in that he spends a large part of every week sorting through cans and bottles from his customers and taking them to the recycling centre.

What does he recycle?

Ryan collects plastic and glass bottles, plus aluminium cans. With the help of his mum and dad, he takes them to the local recycling centre every few weeks, where they are sorted and weighed. His parents are even able to schedule local rubbish pickups from anyone who wants to help the cause.

His graphic designer dad has even made him a website, business cards, and flyers, so the business is well-publicised and going from strength to strength.


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A business all of his own

Ryan’s parents encouraged him to pursue his passion, and Ryan is involved in every aspect of his business, from collecting the materials to taking them to the recycling centre and putting the money in the bank.

From strength to strength

At the end of 2016, Ryan’s amazing story went viral, and he even appear on a US chat show.

He has put the money he has earned towards his college fund, and towards buying a rubbish truck for his expanding round of collections.

He has managed to save an incredible $10,000 for his college fund, and has donated $1600 to charity, including the Pacific Marine Mammal Centre in California, which he is a patron of. The centre works to rescue and rehabilitate marine animals, then releases them back into the wild. It also promotes environmental education.

To date, Ryan’s company has recycled over 200,000 bottles and cans. This definitely makes him a green champion, and even more so, as he is only 7 years old! 

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