Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Sam Klein serves as president and CEO of his own recycling business, InkCycle Group. Oh, and he’s just 12 years old.
Ever since he was in kindergarten, Sam has been interested in the things we discard. Every week on trash collection day, he would wait on a lawn chair for the garbage truck and chat with the garbage men. He also started calling the local waste management company to compliment their work ethic. One day, the company called back. Sam’s mother, Heidi, answered the phone, and was surprised to find out about what her son had been doing all along.
Still, she and her husband supported Sam and subsequently gave him permission to help the garbage men load the truck and ride in it. The eco-conscious youngster even had his birthday party at the waste disposal facility. And it wasn’t long before inspiration struck. “He decided that he was going to develop a business that recycled inkjet cartridges, laser toner, cellphones, things that end up in landfills that should not,” Heidi told NBC Nightly News reporter Kevin Tibbles.
During his free time, Sam visits local businesses to collect their empty ink cartridges, which he takes back to his bedroom to sort. He spends about 10 hours per week packing up the cartridges and shipping them to the manufacturers. Depending on the type and quantity, Sam gets $20 to $200 for the recyclables.
Sam doesn’t keep the money, though. He says he’d feel selfish if he did, so he donates his profits to charity. So far, he has given away $1,000 to help the less fortunate.
“I think it hurts him beyond to see somebody who’s been tossed aside, whether it’s a person or whether it’s garbage,” says Heidi.
Sam seems to have bigger plans for the future. “I feel I’m making a small difference,” he says. “But I hope to make a larger and larger difference.”