A 7-year-old boy in California already has $10,000 saved for college—and not a penny of it came from his parents. "I've recycled 200,000 cans and bottles," Ryan Hickman tells ABC7. He got "hooked" on recycling at age 3 after a visit to a recycling center. "He really loved the actual act of putting all the cans and bottles into the machine and getting the money for it," his father says. Ryan then started asking friends and neighbors to save their recyclables for him. Today, he runs Ryan's Recycling out of San Juan Capistrano with customers across Orange County, according to his website. With help from family members, Ryan picks up and sorts plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans and cleans out "yucky liquids" to prepare them for recycling.
His parents then take the recyclables to a recycling center. "The recycling money I'm saving for a garbage truck," says Ryan, who was also gifted $10,000 and a miniature recycling truck on a recent appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, per the Capistrano Dispatch. But his parents stress that the money is actually being set aside for his education. Not all of the money coming in is being kept for Ryan, though. He also sells T-shirts with proceeds donated to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach "for the sea lions to get food and medicine," Ryan says. His advice: "If you don't recycle, start recycling"—and the reason is simple. "It helps the world," Ryan tells the Dispatch. (Apple's recycling program brings in $43 million in gold.)