12-Year-Old Starts Recycling Business, Donates Profits to Charity

NBC News/Screen capture

When Sam Klein was still in kindergarten, he became fascinated with the things we throw away. Every week, on trash-collection day, the curious youngster would wait outside his house in St. Louis to watch, talk with, and oftentimes assist the visiting garbage men as they made their daily rounds. It was then, perhaps, that Sam first learned of the ugly realities of landfills -- which may be why the now 12-year-old entrepreneur has entered the national spotlight for his recycling business.

“When you throw something away … it hasn’t gone away,” says Sam. “It’s just gone to a different location.”

So, for the last few years, Sam has dedicated his free time visiting local businesses to collect their empty printer ink cartridges, an easily recyclable item too often destined for the local dump. Once he gathers enough, Sam sorts them and sends them back by the box-full to the manufacturers, who pay sometimes as much as $200 for the recycled materials.

While his bold plan has shown that recycling can be profitable for both the environment and business-owners, the preteen pioneer never intended to line his pockets. Sam has donated all proceeds from his recycling charity -- around $1,000 so far!

“It hurts him to see someone tossed aside, whether it’s a person or it's garbage," says Sam's mother, Rachel.

Earlier this week, Sam garnered some well-deserved national attention. The story of this recycling philanthropist's remarkable work was featured on NBC Nightly News -- inspiring countless others with Sam's youthful wisdom and contribution to making the world a better, cleaner, place.

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Tags: Recycling