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Meet Ryan Hickman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Hickman.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
In 2012, when I was about 3 1/2 years old, my dad took me to our local recycling center and we recycled a few small bags of cans and bottles. I loved it and the next day, I handed out bags to my neighbors and asked them to start saving their cans and bottles for me. I did this each week and my dad and I would take them into the recycling center. More and more people started hearing about what I was doing and my dad and I would drive around on weekends and pick up recyclables from all over Orange County. We handed out postcards and talked to people whenever we could about recycling.

In December of 2016, we posted a photo on Facebook of me announcing I had finally saved $10,000 from my recycling. My story went viral and suddenly I was getting thousands of emails and messages a day. I was getting requests to be on talk shows and interviews all over the world. I’ve been on the Ellen Show and the Today Show multiple times, I’ve been in National Geographic and TIME magazines. I’ve been featured on ABC World News and NBC Nightly News and been featured in various tv commercials around the world. I’ve even been in a GOT MILK commercial!

Over the past six years, I’ve been recycling each week and now I’ve recycled nearly 1.7 million cans and bottles. I have a line of my own compostable phone cases at so I could give a plastic-free option to people who need a phone case but don’t want to use plastic. I do beach clean-ups every week at my local beach and I lead community clean-up events with my nonprofit organization, Project3R. We started an education component where we teach students about how important it is to take care of our planet though ocean education classes and I’ve been traveling around the world speaking at events. I’ve been to 8 countries and half of the states in the USA.

Last year, we started a new business called Recycle From Home and it’s a residential recycling pick-up service in the City of Irvine. It’s a pilot program with CalRecycle and the City of Irvine where we pick up cans and bottles from people’s houses and we pay them for their items so they don’t have to drive to a recycle center. I’m at school during the day so we have a fleet of vans picking up from customers. We’re planning on taking the program to other cities as well. Look for our vans with me on the side of it.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
My dad handles a lot of the harder stuff for me and helps manage my media and appearance bookings, etc. but it’s been pretty smooth for me personally. We’ve had a lot of support from the community and a lot of people have pitched in to help make things happen. When I was younger, I think less people took me seriously and thought it was just a cute story. Now that I’m a little older (I’m 13) I can explain things better and I can talk to people more about taking care of our planet and what we can all do to make a difference.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Well, I’m known for recycling. When my story went viral, I had over 200,000,000 views on my videos from all over the world. I’ve got fan mail and messages from almost every country. I’ve inspired thousands of classrooms of kids and I do videos teaching them how to recycle. I’ve recycled nearly 86 tons of cans and bottles over the last ten years and I’m not slowing down any time soon. I’ve spent a lot of time leading beach clean-ups the past few years and I’m always excited to see a lot of people come to help us pick up tiny pieces of plastic and trash from our local beaches. Those tiny items are really bad for our environment and part of my recycling mission is to get those items picked up too. Every piece picked up makes a difference.

I think I’m most proud of recycling almost 2 million cans and bottles and inspiring millions of people to recycle every day.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
My favorite memory is going on vacation with my parents to Belize. We saw pyramids in the jungle and hung out on the beach. It was amazing.

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