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Ryan Hickman


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#PANGAIAChangemakers is a global platform for everyone, everywhere to shine a light on the positive impact individuals can have on the communities that they’re a part of. We invite people to engage with us, tell us their stories, and share their voices.

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About Ryan

At only 11 years old, Ryan Hickman is a global icon for recycling awareness and he has recycled over one million cans and bottles with the goal of inspiring people around the world and keeping trash out of our oceans and landfills. He donates proceeds to marine mammal rescue efforts and he leads weekly beach clean up events in his community. Ryan is the president of Ryan’s Recycling Company and he just launched his new, nonprofit organization: Project3R which will focus on recycling education and awareness around the world.

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Tell us a little bit about your organization? 

My name is Ryan Hickman and I am the president of Ryan’s Recycling Company. I started Ryan’s Recycling when I was 3.5 years old. Now I’m 11, and I recycle cans, bottles, and glass. Recycling is really important to me so no recyclable item or litter ends up in the oceans or landfills. 

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Why is this work so important?

This work is so important to me because I know that I’m helping out the environment, and I inspire lots of people to do the same exact thing. I’m a kid, and I started when I was a kid, that means you guys can start right now! It’s super easy, and I think you guys will love cleaning up the environment with me. 

Initially, what prompted you to drive change?

What initially prompted me to start Ryan’s Recycling? Probably just my dad taking me to the local recycling center for the first time, and it was just really fun and it was helping the environment, and so I just wanted to keep helping out the environment, because it was making a big difference. Just a little bit, does make a big difference!

What has been the most rewarding moment of your journey so far?

The most rewarding moment of my journey so far is probably being able to recycle one million cans and bottles, just me and my dad. And also knowing that I’m inspiring people all around the world and them helping me with what I’m doing, keeping the environment clean. 

What Changemakers do you look up to and why?

Some Changemakers that I look up to are probably, Campbell from Project 365 – he makes teddy bears for kids who are sick with cancer in hospitals. I also look up to my friend Khloe from Khloe Kares, and she helps support the homeless. Oh, and also a lot more people I look up to, all my people who I inspire, they say that they’re helping out the environment because of me, those are some people who I look up to too. 

If you could save one species at the click of your fingers, what would it be?

If I could save one species, I’d probably choose seals or sea lions, because I help out the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, I donate money there, and I just love seeing all the seals and sea lions’ funny little faces. 

Why is it important for brands/companies to become more responsible?

It’s important for brands and companies to become more responsible because all the products make a big impact on the environment, even biodegradable water bottles make a big difference on the environment, and even just cutting down on plastic.  

If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you would want to have with you?

There’s actually two things that I would like to have with me if I’m ever stranded on a deserted island: one would be a lifetime supply of water, and then two a lifetime supply of white chocolate Kit Kats. 

What are some small changes people can make in their everyday lives to help save the environment?

Small changes that people can make in their everyday lives are… Well, I have two small changes. Cutting down on plastic, and if you go on a walk or a bike ride around your neighborhood, if you see a piece of trash or recycling just laying in the gutter or grass, please pick it up, make sure it ends up in the right bin so it’s not harming any sea life or land life! It’s really easy, if an 11-year-old like me can do it, you guys can too!