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Seven-year-old boy starts own recycling company and saves $10K for college

Going Green

When toddler Ryan Hickman from Orange County, California, first went with his dad to the recycling centre a few years ago, he wanted something even many adults never dream of having: his own recycling company.

With the help of his parents, the then-three-year-old distributed plastic bags to their neighbours and asked them to fill it with cans and bottles. And so, Ryan’s Recycling Company was born. Now four years later, his business has recycled some 49,000 pounds of waste and has expanded to five neighbourhoods with 40 customers.

As for the company’s profitability? Ryan has saved up roughly AUS$13,250 (US$10,000) for college and even donated over AUS$2,120 (US$1,600) to charity. Not bad for a seven-year-old!

Ryan Hickman

According to Ryan’s dad Damion, the seven-year-old CEO manages his business every day – as long as he finishes his homework first.

“He does a little bit of recycling each evening after school but the majority of it is on the weekends,” Ryan’s dad Damion told Lost At E Minor.

Ryan and his dad's truck

It’s a family effort too, with Damion and his wife Andrea pitching in whenever Ryan needs help.

“Ryan relies on me to drive him to the recycle center and to pick up bags and gloves from the store. I also handle any of his incoming calls and requests for pick-ups in our local area,” added Damion.

“I am a graphic designer so I have made him a website, business cards, flyers, etc. My wife and I help with sort and load recycling when he gets too big of a load for him to handle.”

Ryan and his dad

Ryan is also a Youth Ambassador for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. He sells a line of t-shirts, with the proceeds all going to the institution.

When asked by Lost At E Minor on how they got Ryan into recycling and how other parents could do the same for their children, Damion answered:

“As parents, we’ve been careful to never push him and I suppose that’s what is remarkable about Ryan. He has had a focus on recycling all on his own. We make sure that he also focuses on being a little boy and playing with his friends and other activities as well. We’ve just let him do his thing.

“One of the ways he’s remained focused is that we’ve had him be involved in every set of his business from collecting recyclable items to hauling it to the recycle center to making his own bank deposits.”

Ryan Hickman

“I would encourage any parent to just let their child find their passion no matter what it is and help them by supporting them when they ask for help,” added Damion. “Recycling is easy and doesn’t take much effort to do. It all depends on how far you want to take it.”

You can know more about Ryan’s Recycling Company by heading over here.