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7-year-old starts recycling business to earn money for college while saving the planet

The Week logo The Week 2/11/2017 Catherine Garcia

Since launching his company Ryan's Recycling in 2012, at age 3, Ryan Hickman, now 7, has turned in more than 200,000 cans and bottles and raised more than $10,000 for his college fund.

Ryan's father, Damion Hickman, told ABC Los Angeles his son become "hooked" on recycling when he visited a recycling center as a toddler.

"He really loved the actual act of putting all the cans and bottles into the machine and getting the money for it," Damion said.

The family lives in San Juan Capistrano, California, and Ryan's parents say his primary concern is the environment, especially keeping bottles and cans out of the ocean. He's definitely a businessman with a heart — Ryan sells T-shirts on his website and donates the proceeds to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach "for the sea lions to get food and medicine."

The young entrepreneur has a simple message that he hopes will resonate: "If you already recycle, just keep on recycling," he said. "If you don't recycle, start recycling."

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