Inspirational Spotlight – Ryan’s Recycling Company

Photo from Ryan's Recycling Company
Photo from Ryan’s Recycling Company


Every now and then I run across people/businesses/stories that are just so inspiration it helps keep me going and makes me want to share it with everyone! Well, what better place than a blog right? I’ve shared other businesses before but this post will be all about one little seven year old boy’s recycling business!

Starting at the very old ripe age of 3.5 years Ryan began recycling cans and bottles. I can definitely imagine a little boy having tons of fun putting in the cans and bottles into the recycling machine and getting some mule for his efforts. Fast forward 3.5 years later and Ryan has started his own company and has even been on the Ellen show! His company has also been featured in several publications and to date he’s made over $10,000 recycling cans and bottles alone!!! What an incredible story. Ryan’s goal is to buy a garbage truck for his business but his parentals are thinking it’s more for a college fund.

He’s already accomplished so much by the age of 7!

If you live in Orange County, California you can schedule Ryan to pick your cans and bottles! Either way check out his website below.
Ryan’s Recycling Company

Another thing you can do to help out is to buy a Ryan’s Recycling t-shirt with proceeds going towards the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California.
Ryan’s Recycling T-shirt for women
Ryan’s Recycling T-shirt for guys

It’s pretty rare to hear about someone so young doing something so big! If a seven year old can do this to make the world better, what’s stopping us?

Turning Recyclables into Cash

 Photo Credit: NYC♥NYC via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: NYC♥NYC via Compfight cc

One of the memories I have of my grandmother is of walking to the neighborhood market. We would carry back whatever bottles we had and then get cash for it at the counter! She taught us that recycling can be good for the earth and for our wallets. Of course we didn’t get much as we only had a few bottles at a time. It’s something to consider doing though especially if you happen to buy a lot of drinks in bottles. Most people have access to a curbside recycling that is much simpler to use. Others just separate out the ones that they can get cash for. Then there are people who hunt for bottles to recycle!

I’ve tried it myself with varying results. We don’t buy a lot of drinks in bottles as we mostly just drink water from a Brita pitcher. We’re unusual in that way and I know that most families probably go through a ton of different recyclable containers. Usually I just toss them into the recycling bin. Lately though I’ve been trying to collect what little we use to try to get some cash for it! I happen to live in one of the states where they charge you money when you buy the drink! Every plastic bottle comes with an additional charge of 5 cents and I think glass ones might be 10 cents! If I’m really trying to be frugal I should definitely be trying to get some of my money back!

Last weekend I had one bag full of bottles and thought that I could stop by a recycling booth and try it out! There are small booths that are sprinkled across the city where you can take bottles and get cash. Let’s say I had no idea how insane it would be! We arrived to line up behind 3 other groups. A family of three had taken over both machines and were feeding a truckload of bottles in! When I say a truckload I do seriously mean a full truck! I have no idea how long they had been there before we arrived, but after 10 minutes they moved to one machine. Unfortunately the people in front of us had tons of bottles too! After waiting 20 minutes and realizing it would probably take 30 more minutes until we got to the machine with our one bag of bottles, we have our bag to the person behind us and left. Better luck next time perhaps! It wasn’t worth our time for one bag to wait almost an hour.

Money lying in the trash
What I realize now is that for me I was just doing it to get some money back. For others it can actually be a source of income! I’m so fortunate that I have enough to live on and more. These could be people barely making ends meet or who have been out of work for months. Now I am glad that California can give you money back to recycle. I’ve seen people literally poking around in the trash cans and dumpsters looking for bottles. Tossing bottles into the trash is like throwing away money!

Motivation to recycle
Money is definitely one of the best ways to motivate people to recycle! It’s a total win win situation to make money from recycling and to save the earth. A lot of people doing this might not be motivated because they want to be green, but only for the money. Ether way it gets recyclables out of the landfill.


Have you ever gotten money back from recycling?


City of Angels vs the Emerald City (aka Seattle)

Photo Credit: Surrealize via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Surrealize via Compfight cc

I’m back! I enjoyed a lovely few days with my family eating a lot, relaxing, playing with my nieces, and staying indoors due to Seattle’s infamous rainy weather. It’s always sad to leave and say goodbye, but of course I love being able to sleep in my own bed and be at home. Both Los Angeles and Seattle are considered big cities that are doing their best to be green. Seattle is beautiful with all its lush greenery. Thus the nickname Emerald city. The air up there is definitely a lot cleaner and it always smells fresh. They certainly do have a lot more trees up there! I love both cities for different things, but let’s do a quick comparison.

The recycling services for both cities are pretty much on par. You can recycle a wide variety of items and it’s pretty easy to do so. Seattle though also has a yard waste and compost service that Los Angeles doesn’t have! Anything organic is allowed in their brown bins and they are trucked off to be composted! Since its an industrial large scale composter even bones and meat are allowed to be put in the brown bin. Traditional small scale composting done in your backward doesn’t generate enough heat to break down hard items like bones. Meat is also a problem because it attracts pests.

Everyone drives much slower in Seattle than in Los Angeles! The carpool lanes are only bound by a solid white line and you can merge in or out at any point. Buses are also widely available and very convenient. In downtown all the buses are free to use if you stay in the area. I’ve ridden the commuter buses from the suburbs to downtown and they are very efficient. It would take just as much time to drive and find parking than it would to take a bus downtown. Buses in Los Angeles can be old and dirty a lot of times. People in Seattle get to ride newer buses that are always clean.

Los Angeles definitely has more diversity and options that Seattle in this regard. Seattle has a strong local food and eco friendly seafood movement, but lacks in ethnic diversity. There is still a Ranch 99 but only a few decent Chinese restaurants. The same for other ethnic foods.

If I had a choice I would be in Seattle for the spring and summer, then Los Angeles for the fall and winter. It does rain a lot in Seattle but mostly in the fall and winter. Spring and summer are absolutely gorgeous with all the greenery and the temperature doesn’t get as hot as LA. Here it’s 72 degrees most of the year, but it can get pretty blistering hot in the summer.


I love going to Seattle to visit my sister and her family. I try to go as often as I can but so far it’s only once a year. My nieces are both adorable and growing up so fast! In terms of being green both cities offer a lot of options for their residents to be green, but I think Seattle does better in the actual act of it. People in Seattle have much better access to unspoiled nature and are more connected to it. You can drive 20 minutes away from the suburb and find yourself on an amazing trail that takes you to a lake hidden away. In LA any hiking trails are overrun with people and dogs and you have to drive very far to really see unspoiled nature.

The cost of living is of course much less in Seattle also. Houses are cheaper and even items at Costco can be less than buying it here! If I had my way I would love to live for half the year in Seattle and the other half in LA. That’s not really financially feasible though so I guess I will choose to remain in LA!

Have you ever been to Seattle or lived there? What do you love about the Emerald city?

Making the Office Earth-Friendly

Photo Credit: mark sebastian via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: mark sebastian via Compfight cc

Recycling may be pretty convenient when you’re at home, but what about when you’re at work? Single family homes usually have separate bins for trash and recycling. Apartment complexes have huge recycling dumpsters set aside. Business buildings aren’t required by law to provide any recycling at all though! I’m not sure why this is because I bet businesses use the most supplies! A typical office will run through tons of paper each day. Then there’s all the aluminum cans and plastic bottles that could be recycled too. You can definitely recycle whatever you use on your own, but what about the entire office?

Begin with yourself
It always starts with you. If you don’t do it then how can you expect others to? Set the example by showing others it can be done. If someone sees you doing something good, they might starting doing it too!

If you have recycling bins at home, make sure you bring back whatever can be recycled. Just because you don’t have a recycling bin at the office doesn’t mean you should toss that bottle in the trash. Documents might be iffy though, because there might be confidential information on them.

Think before you print
Since offices use the most paper, this is the easiest way to be more earth-friendly at work. I mostly just view documents on my computer and rarely ever print anything. Most of the time, there is no need to print anything out, and I just end up having to carry extra things around anyway. Documents with imagery also look much better on your computer screen than printed out. Unless the document is specifically made to be printed, it was made at a low resolution that doesn’t look good. If you do have to print, just make sure to use both sides of the paper and print in smaller type. Printers usually have a double sided printing option. You’ll also have less in your bag if you use paper wisely.

If you can’t print double-sided, try using both sides of the paper before recycling it. You can create your own recycled paper pad by clipping paper to a sturdy backing. Voila! You’ve got an instant notepad.

If it’s a small office consider bringing home the recycling
When I discovered that the office I work in a few days a week didn’t have recycling, I offered to take care of the recycling if they wanted to set up a collection area. When it came time to buy a new trash can, they opted for a nice simplehuman one that actually has two bins: one for trash and one for recycling.

Now once a week, I lug the office recyclables home and toss it in the bin. I probably look like a trash lady walking down the street lugging a ten pound bag of recyclables, but the extra effort is worth it for me. Not only do I make sure more items get recycled, I also work out my arms a bit! Plus, there’s the added benefit that if someone is out there looking for someone to mug, they will most likely pass right over me. Someone carrying round trash probably won’t have a lot of money.

Most offices are definitely bigger than mine though. Perhaps another person there can swap days with you instead so you have some support.

Ask why recycling isn’t available
You can also start the conversation by asking HR why recycling isn’t available. Sometimes it only takes one person asking to start something going. If people don’t say anything, then no one will do anything because they’ll assume nothing is wrong.

It’s just another step to making this world a lot more earth-friendly! Does your office promote earth-friendly habits? If not, what do you do to be environmentally friendly there?

Recycling Oddities

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

The most commonly recycled items are aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and glass jars. It seems that almost anywhere in the United States, these items have some kind of curbside program. Some areas, like Los Angeles, go even further than just those common items. Here, I can recycle any plastic of all numbers and plastic bags of almost every type too. Usually, curbside programs only accept plastics #1 and #2. The numbers actually go up to 7. The plastics after the first two are generally much harder to recycle, and thus there isn’t as great of a demand to recycle those. Recycling plants still are businesses that need to make a profit to keep running. If you’re lucky enough to live in a larger city, you probably have the same options that I do. It’s great to be able to recycle so much of our waste just outside our door.

There are a number of other items we can actually recycle that don’t go into curbside! This list can go from electronics, Brita filters, reusable bags, clothing, books, bras, and shoes. Some of these places take hard-to-recycle items, while others take gently-used items for reuse and distribution. It’s even more ways to cut down on the waste we create.

Beauty Products, Dental Products, Food Wrappers, Cigarette Butts, Diaper Packaging
This is one of my favorite businesses! Terracycle takes a high number of odd, not usually recycled, items and turns them into new products. For example, a messenger bag made of Capri Sun drink pouches or a small purse made of candy wrappers. You sign up, pick a collection to collect items for, send it in (free shipping), and get points that go towards schools. Individuals can do this, but a lot of schools are involved.

Many electronics can’t just be dumped into the trash because of the hazardous and precious metals they contain. There are two ways I know of that are easy to dispose of electronics for proper handling. The easiest is going to your local Best Buy. They take basically any electronic from you. Inkjet cartridges, CD’s and DVD’s, electrical cables, clocks, old VCR’s, and the list goes on. Best Buy is best for smaller electronics. Once you get into things like TV’s, you have to pay them a $10 fee to recycle. Technically you get that back in the form of a $10 gift card, but I would prefer to go a different route.

For larger electronics, find an e-waste center that will take it for free. This can be a center only for e-waste, or it can be a hazardous waste facility. Cities also sometimes have e-waste or hazardous waste events. Check a local calendar to see if one is happening near you.

Brita Filters
Preserve: Gimme 5
Brita got a lot of flack when they didn’t even offer any option for recycling their filters. They generally promote their filters as environmentally-friendly, a great alternative to bottled water, but then their filters weren’t recyclable! Now, they’ve teamed up with Preserve to recycle their filters! Check out the link to see if there is a drop-off location near you. If not, you can ship it to them. Whole Foods might be a drop-off location. You do have to pay for the shipping fee, but for me it’s worth it to be more waste free.

Number 5 Plastics
Preserve: Gimme 5
For locations that don’t offer #5 plastic curbside recycling, you can still recycle those types of plastics. Preserve will take those plastics and turn them into products they sell. I’ve seen their toothbrushes made of recycled #5 plastics in store before. They also have sturdy plastic-ware for sale too. It’s the same company that takes Brita filters for recycling. Check the link to see if there’s a drop-off location nearby. Whole Foods might be a drop-off location. Or you can ship it to them.

Bottle Caps
Download Aveda Recap Collection PDF
Recycling bottle caps is generally hard to do also. Bottle caps are made of #5 plastic. Bottle caps are small and may clog machinery, plus they aren’t big enough to be worth recycling sometimes. I’ve heard that bottle caps are generally sorted out and thrown away. Aveda stores will take back these caps and make sure they are recycled! Read the PDF to see which types of caps are taken. I’m not sure if Aveda salons are participating. I’ve tried before and they didn’t take it there.

Soles 4 Souls
If you don’t feel like giving away your shoes to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army, you could donate your shoes to Soles 4 Souls. They redistribute your shoes to people who need them. Request a box from them to fill up with shoes. You can always ask your friends to see if they have any shoes they don’t want anymore.

Bra Recycling
For the ladies reading this, and men too! Men, you can tell your lady friends about this. Thrift shops and Goodwill can’t take your bras, but this organization will distribute it to women that need bras!

Reusable Bags
Chico Bags
Chico bags takes old reusable bags and creates new items out of them, such as rugs and totebags! I haven’t had any reusable bags go kaput yet, but when I do then I’ll send them here.

There are a lot of businesses and non-profits out there who help make our waste into something better or recycle it properly. If you know of any other ones, please share! Goodwill is always great for donating items, but sometimes those items are better used elsewhere. It’s up to you where you want to donate your goods.

Have you heard of these recycling/reuse options before?