This Kid Started His Own Recycling Business in Orange County

Ryan Hickman has recycled over 700,000 cans and bottles since he was 3 years old.

Most preteens like playing video games, playing sports or watching videos on YouTube. But one boy had a passion for something big: saving the environment.

Ryan Hickman started his business, Ryan's Recycling, in 2012, when he was only 3 years old. His father took him to the local recycling center for the first time, and Hickman fell in love with it.

"I don't know [why]," he said. "It's just really fun."

He handed out plastic bags to his neighbors so they could save their recyclables for them. His initiative took off, with friends and family members of his neighbors collecting their cans and bottles for him, according to his website. He now collects recyclables from people all over Orange County.

Ryan made money from recycling, but since he's grown older, he's doing it for the environment. At least, that's the primary reason.

"99%--maybe even 100%," he said.

The child entrepreneur also sells shirts and hats, the proceeds from which are donated to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. According to his website, he has recycled 702,000 cans and bottles and donated nearly $10,000 to the nonprofit since he began recycling.

Ryan doesn't work alone. His parents and grandmother help him in his efforts, and he credits his dad with driving him around. But he also has partnerships in other organizations, including Kidbox, an organization that donates clothes for every package it sells, for which he serves on its kid board of directors. It's a position that allows him to donate $10,000 worth of clothes every February.

Next February, he plans to make his donation to the Homeless Intervention Shelter in Placentia.

Most kids would probably keep the money they make from recycling, but Hickman wants to give his away. The reason he gives is similar to the reason he provides for his love of the recycling center his father took him to when he was 3 years old: "I just want to do it."

Contact Us