Ryan Hickman started his company at the age of three and has since recycled over 1 million cans and bottles
All of us have grown up with the sustainability mantra: reuse, reduce, recycle. While most of us don't follow through, others do their best to follow this simple concept. There are some exceptions of people who follow the mantra to the t. Every small action towards the conservation of the environment counts and it's usually these actions that build momentum to something bigger. So when Ryan Hickman accompanied his father on his daily trips to a local recycling center, no one would have expected that he would go on to establish a successful recycling company. Through this process, he has also managed to do his part in keeping cans and bottles from ending up in the ocean.
Ryan was only three when he first came across the practice of recycling in 2012. He soon realized this was something he was passionate about. He immediately notified his mom and dad that he wanted to give empty plastic bags to all the neighbors and maybe they would save their recyclables for him. Ryan managed to get cans and bottles saved not only by his neighbors but also from their friends, families, and co-workers. According to his website, Ryan's Recycling Company, he now has customers all over Orange County, California.
He is now 11-years-old and his company is still going strong, of which he is the CEO, manager, and employee. He spends a portion of each week sorting through cans and bottles from customers to get them ready for the recycling center. “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,” Ryan told Power of Positivity. What keeps him motivated is that his efforts are helping keep the environment clean. He had managed to raise over $10,000 by the age of seven and this money would go towards his college education, his dad, Damion Hickman, stated.
"Yeah, but I want to buy a truck," Ryan expressed his wish to use that money to buy a full-size trash truck and eventually become a garbage man. For now, the money is in his college account. Speaking to CNN, his dad 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. Mr. Jose is the janitor at Ryan's school. Even at school, Ryan's favorite activity is helping Mr. Jose, separate the trash."
"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," Ryan, who volunteers with Recycle Across America, stated. "That's why I've partnered up with Recycle Across America-- to help everyone understand how to recycle right!" He also sells T-shirts on his website and donates the proceeds to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. In an interview with Points of Light, Ryan said that we can all do our part, "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."
In the near future, Ryan is hoping to launch a nonprofit that he describes as "recycling awareness." He added, "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 hopes to travel to places around the world to help people recycle better.