Exorbitant student loans with ever-growing interest rates are a stark reality for many Americans who have finally gotten out of college and were thrust into the real world. And if you live in a a major metropolitan area, a move to an area with a cheaper cost of living and some serious belt-tightening for a few years is probably the only solution to paying them off.

So you live a life of economic slavery, chipping away at the interest of the loan and never really making payments on the principle, probably until the day you die.

But there's one kid who decided he isn't going to go out like that.

Ryan Hickman, a 7-year-old California boy began recycling from the tender age of 3. He now has over $10,000 in savings.

1
ryansrecyclingcenter

Ryan's obsession with saving the planet, and pocket change, started from the first day he visited a recycling center with his father.

4
ryansrecycling

After returning home and collecting all of the trash and bottles in the house, he hit up neighbors and friends for their unwanted recyclables.

5
ryansrecycling

His business, "Ryan's Recycling," was born. And after four years of constantly recycling and dedicating parts of his week to collecting trash, Ryan has managed to put away a whopping $10,000 in savings. On his website it says that he's planning on saving the money for college, but there's also a warning that he just might end up buying a garbage truck.

Ryan says his desire to help the planet and protect animals who might eat non-perishables "and die" drew him to recycling. 

2
ryansrecycling

He's also managed to donate $1,624 to charity, and he was made Youth Ambassador for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. He even sells t-shirts for $13, and all of the proceeds from the shirt sales go directly to funds for the center.

Ryan's mother talked about Ryan's endless passion for his work in an interview with The Capistrano Dispatch.

3
ryansrecyclying

"He’s very passionate about it, and he likes to get everybody else passionate about it as well. I think he’s rubbed off on all of us now. You find yourself walking past a can on the ground and needing to pick it up instead of walking away and leaving it there."