Ryan Hickman earning the funds through his business, Ryan’s Recycling
Eight-year-old Ryan Hickman is an entrepreneur with a strong personality and a passion for recycling. He’s got years of experience, too—he’s been in the business since he was just three years old! To date, Hickman has saved more than $33,000 for his college education. Through his business, Ryan’s Recycling, Hickman has recycled an estimated 265,000 bottles and cans.
Every week for years, he and his family have sorted through bags of recyclables. As of mid-December 2016, he had earned $10K by recycling cans and bottles from his customers—friends, family, and neighbors. Once he reached that milestone, the mainstream media began to take notice. After first being mentioned on a website called One Green Planet, the story behind Ryan’s Recycling went viral. Since then, Ryan’s story has been seen by over 140 million people on social media channels.
Hickman has since been featured on just about every major news station in the United States and several around the world. He appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where he was presented with a check for $10,000, as well as a battery-operated vehicle to use in his work. His story has run in various newspapers, including USA TODAY and the Orange County Register, as well as on ABC World News and other social and mainstream media sites.
His father Damion says Ryan got started recycling when he took him along to a local rePlanet, the largest recycling collection network in the country. At just 3-1/2 years old, Damion says Ryan “really enjoyed going, and I gave him the money from the plastic bottles.” He says it didn’t take long for Ryan to connect the dots: recycled bottles and cans = money. “He asked all our neighbors to start saving for him. He then enlisted people in his grandparents’ neighborhood, and it just grew from there.”
Hickman has regular customers that call every month for a local pickup, and friends and family drop off regularly. Every three weeks, his biggest customer, El Niguel Country Club, fills up the family truck with cans and bottles. Ryan and his dad take it all home and begin sorting the glass, plastic and aluminum cans. “Everything is bagged up, and then we head off to the recycle center,” says Damion. “A typical trip for us takes about an hour, and Ryan usually makes around $200+ each trip.”
Damion reports that Ryan is involved in every step of his business, from collecting the cans and bottles from his customers to picking up the bags and gloves to do the work. “He even handles depositing his money in the bank, where they all know him as Ryan, the president of Ryan’s Recycling.” Early last year, Hickman sold T-shirts to friends, family, and customers and donated the profits to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California, where he serves as a junior ambassador. Ryan has donated over $5000 to their efforts.
Ryan continues to recycle and educate others through interview appearances. His father reports that he’s recently begun preparing his parents for the day that he’ll need to buy himself a real trash truck.
“I’m not sure where he plans to park it,” says Damion, “but I have a feeling I would lose my spot in the driveway!”
Ryan has received thousands of emails around the world with people that have been inspired to start recycling after seeing his story.
Recently Ryan started a new ten week recycling campaign to try to get everyone around the world involved with recycling 300,000 cans and bottles. Follow Ryan below to catch weekly videos with updates and announcing new corporate involvement: