Ryan Hickman, of San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, Calif. began recycling when he was just three years old, accompanying his father on daily trips to a local recycling center, KGTV reported.
“We had gone to the center with a couple of bags, and he really loved the actual act of putting all the cans and bottles into the machine and getting the money for it, and that kind of got him hooked,” father Damion Hickman told the station.
The second-grader’s business, “Ryan Recycling,” has recycled some 200,000 cans and bottles to date, KGTV reported.
The boy, along with his family and friends, carefully sorts through bags of recyclables each week. He also sells T-shirts on his website and donates the proceeds to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, according to the station.
The profits, he told the station, are given to the center for “sea lions to get food and medicine.”
Ryan’s business has earned him international attention, with news media as far away as Hong Kong profiling his story.
The boy also received an award this week from San Juan Capistrano’s city council and mayor for his work to help the environment.
“If you already recycle, just keep on recycling. If you don’t recycle, start recycling,” Ryan told ABC News 10.