This 9-year-old started a recycling empire to save the world

This mini mogul is ready to save the planet.

When Ryan Hickman was three years old, he visited a recycling center with his dad to cash in some bags of plastic bottles and cans. Hickman had so much fun he told his parents he wanted to provide his neighbors with plastic bags to see if they would store their recyclables for him.

The little tike got a massive response which spawned Ryan’s Recycling Company in 2012. Now Hickman recycles cans and bottles from customers all over Orange County.

“It takes 90 years for a can to break down,” Hickman told In The Know. “It takes 600 years for a plastic bottle to break down. And it takes one million years for a glass bottle to break down.”

The way Ryan’s Recycling Company works is Hickman goes around and picks up rubbish from his customers. Then he brings the items back to his house where he and his dad sort it. The father and son then take the sorted bottles to the recycling center.

Hickman has recycled 860,000 cans and bottles since he began his eco-business. The company has even donated $10,259 to Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

“I feel pretty good that I am inspiring lots of other people to recycle so no more litter will be ending up in the ocean and stuff,” Hickman told ITK. “I just don’t really want animals getting sick and dying in the ocean. The money I get from my recycling, I put that in a bank account to buy a recycling truck so I can keep recycling. The money from my t-shirts I donate to Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.”

Hickman was featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Little Big Shots,” and has been included on dozens of lists about kids changing the world.

His next goal is to hit one million recycled cans and bottles. As far as saving the world goes, Hickman is quite matter-of-fact about it.

“I’m only nine years old,” he said. “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on the British couple who created a 3,000-plant home garden display.

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