Ryan Hickman may only be 9 years old, but he’s a green giant of the environmental community, having saved 460,000 cans and bottles, totaling almost 90,000 pounds of glass, plastic and aluminum from the landfill. His passion for environmentalism started at 3, when Ryan accompanied his dad to their local recycling center. After cashing in a few bags of cans and bottles, the toddler decided then and there that recycling was his future.
Since that moment, Ryan’s commitment — and recognition — for recycling has only grown: He has received CNN’s Young Wonder Award, was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in Orange County by the OC Register, and has appeared on The Ellen Show, ABC World News and countless other programs.
While he’s traveled across the United States speaking about the importance of reusing materials instead of throwing them in the trash, Ryan remains committed to implementing his philosophy in his immediate environment. At home, he has set up 24 recycling bins. “We use really big green bags that go in the bins,” he says. “The bags are almost as big as I am.” At school, he has mobilized all of his teachers to save cans. “Every Tuesday I go around and collect them,” he says.
With the money he’s earned from recycling, Ryan has donated more than $8,000 to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. “The most common material we’re getting is plastic. If I could change just one thing, it would be for the world to stop making plastic.”
Interested in learning more about Ryan’s commitment to making the world a better place? You can see his website here.