12-year-old CEO Ryan Hickman who recycled 1.6 million bottles » The Horticulturist

When Ryan Hickman was just 3½ years old, he fell in love with recycling.

“My dad first took me to the local recycling center…when I was 3½, and I loved it,” Ryan, now 12½, proudly says during a recent video call with Green Matters. “And I just wanted to keep doing it and doing it and doing it, because it was fun and I was helping the environment.”

So, at the age of 3 and a half, Ryan quickly started his own recycling business, Ryan’s Recycling.

CEO for 12 years, Ryan Hickman, who recycled 1.6 million bottles

After years of hard work, his business made him something of a recycling celebrity, catching the attention of Ellen DeGeneres and Jennifer Aniston. Today, nine years later, Ryan continues to lead the company, as well as a non-profit organization called Project 3R.

The company, for which Ryan is CEO, takes up most of his and his father’s weekends. Together, they both drive through Orange County, California, collecting cans and bottles from locals, who hope that Ryan’s Recycling will bring these items to the recycling center, ensuring that they will indeed be recycled.

For nearly ten years that Ryan’s Recycling has been in business, Ryan has collected and recycled approximately 1.6 million cans and bottles something that is much more driven by environmentalism today than in its early days.

“When I was 3, I mostly did it for the money, because I didn’t know much about the environment,” Ryan says. “But when I was 5 or 6 years old, I started to see that I was helping the environment, so that’s what started to motivate me even more.”

CEO for 12 years, Ryan Hickman, who recycled 1.6 million bottles


Recycling is Ryan’s #1 passion, and he has no plans to change that.

As Ryan tells us, all of the money he earns from Ryan’s Recycling goes straight into his college fund. When asked where he sees himself in six or seven years, he tells us, “I want to be even bigger than I am now.”

The tween hopes to attend a local college at the University of California, Irvine, so she can continue to run her business and not have to “stop recycling for four years.” Although Ryan is young, he says he “definitely” wants to pursue this career long after college.

That said, Ryan keeps busy with other hobbies. “I play the violin. I ride a bicycle and I have a big, big collection of coins,” he tells us.

Ryan’s Recycling now has its own non-profit recycling organization.

Although Ryan’s Recycling is a for-profit business, Ryan and his father have been inundated with donation offers since Ryan’s story went viral in 2017. So in 2020, Ryan founded a non-profit organization called Project 3R, which he uses for recycling and environmental education. . and outreach, community and beach cleanup, and more.

Ryan is as passionate about the selfless elements of what he does as he is about his recycling empire, often sharing his passions with his classmates. He tells us that they “don’t like” his talk about recycling so much; however, when he does beach cleanups with Project 3R, “a lot of them go.” In fact, about 20 kids from her school attended her last beach cleanup in March.

Additionally, all of the money Ryan makes from the sale of Ryan’s Recycling t-shirts and hats is donated to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, Calif. “to help rescue sick seals and sea lions.” and injured in order to help them recover,” Ryan says.

“It feels good to know I’m making a difference,” Ryan says. “I just know that people are inspired, they don’t litter and [están] pick up all the trash they see on the floor.

CEO for 12 years, Ryan Hickman, who recycled 1.6 million bottles

Ryan is hopeful for the future of planet Earth.

Ecological anxiety and feelings of doom and despair tend to overwhelm many environmental activists, but nothing seems to bring this 12.5-year-old boy down. The fact that he performs so regularly helps motivate him to feel optimistic about the future of the planet and the climate crisis.

“I hope it gets better, because I inspire more and more people to recycle, knowing or hoping that climate change will get better,” he tells us. She adds that she is inspired by many other young activists, such as her friend Chloe, who “helps the homeless”, as well as her father, who helps Ryan run his business.

“My favorite part of recycling is probably spending time with my dad,” Ryan shares, “and knowing that [los materiales reciclables] they don’t throw.”

CEO for 12 years, Ryan Hickman, who recycled 1.6 million bottles

And Ryan’s dad is just as passionate about everything, mostly because he loves seeing his son so satisfied. “Some days it’s a lot of work, but it makes him very happy,” said Ryan’s father, Damion Hickman. Green Questions by telephone. “It’s the look on his face sometimes when we recycle…or he finds something crazy on the beach during his beach cleanup. It’s like a little kid at Christmas, and I say, how can I say no?

Above all, Ryan hopes his story will inspire others to live more sustainably, because the more people fight the climate crisis, the better our chances of having a healthy, livable future for our planet.

“If a 12-year-old like me could do it, anyone can,” Ryan says. “If I could do it, so can you.”

Article in English: GreenMatters

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