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Sustainability supporter Ryan Hickman is one of 20 finalists for a new award that recognizes kids bettering their community.

Hickman, an 11-year-old resident of San Juan Capistrano, is in the running for the TIME magazine’s Kid of the Year recognition. The recognition is in conjunction with TIME, TIME for Kids, and Nickelodeon. Hickman is an advocate for recycling and environmentalism through Ryan’s Recycling Company and the nonprofit Project3R. 

San Juan Capistrano’s Ryan Hickman is a finalist for an award from TIME magazine and Nickelodeon after his recycling efforts. Photo: Courtesy of Ryan Hickman.

Ryan started recycling when he was just 3 years old, because he thought it was fun. Ryan said he and his dad recycled plastic bottles from their house and then asked neighbors to also recycle.

“I’m really excited to be nominated as a finalist for TIME and Nickelodeon’s Kid of the Year!” Ryan said. “I think it’s pretty cool to be included with a bunch of amazing kids, and I hope kids everywhere get inspired to follow their dreams, too.”

The top five honorees will be saluted on Dec. 4 during the Kid of the Year TV special on Nickelodeon and related channels, a press release stated.  The ultimate winner will be featured on a cover of TIME, with a companion story in TIME for Kids

Ryan said he and his dad go around after school and on the weekends to pick up cans and bottles, and he also aims to do a cleanup once a week at Doheny State Beach.

“My story has gone around the world, and millions of people have watched my videos on social media. I’ve recycled nearly 1.2 million cans and bottles since I’ve started,” Ryan said. “I also help support my friends at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach by donating money from all my Ryan’s Recycling T-shirts I sell online through my web site.”

Ryan reportedly has raised more than $12,000 so far.

“It’s really easy to make a difference,” Ryan said. “I always tell people to try your best to recycle what you use every day, and if you see a piece of trash on the ground, please pick it up and throw it away. I’m only 11 years old. If I can make a difference, you can, too.”

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