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Mercer Island boy makes recycling his mission - 12 Under 12

Tristan Schwiethale is only 10, but he's recycled more things than most people do in a lifetime. Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. — Some kids like to play on computers. 10-year-old Tristan Schwiethale likes to pick them apart.

"Before I'd just take a hammer to stuff, but now I know how to take it apart." Said Tristan.

Tristan’s road to becoming a recycling wonder kid started when he was small.

"When he turned 2 I said, what do you want to do for your birthday, it's your 2nd birthday. And he said he wanted to go to the recycling center," said Tristan’s mom, Naomi Glass.

From cardboard, cans, to every kind of metal, if it could be recycled, Tristan wanted to collect it and turn it in.

"Probably by 3 maybe 2 and a half, 3, he realized that it was important to the earth. And that, he really became a very young environmentalist." Said his mom.

When he got a bit older he took his talent to his local farmers market on Mercer Island.

"He was initially unofficial. He would stand by the bens. But by the time he was 5 the farmers market made him an official volunteer."

For his years of dedication, Tristan recently received a special city stewardship award from the Mercer Island City Council.

But when he's not volunteering at the market he's collecting just about anything for his nearly weekly trip to the recycling center.

"The night before trash day I'll just walk around and people throwing away stuff I'll just knock on their door or if they've already gone I'll just take it with me."

Last year Tristan collected over 7000 pounds of metal alone.

"He's a really principled kid," said his mom. "He sees the big picture of the world. He sees the problems, and he's really done what he can to fix it."

But besides keeping landfills less full, there's one other benefit to recycling Tristan loves too; collecting the cash.

"Eighty-six dollars and eighteen cents. And three suckers," said Tristan.

"Some people have a calling,” Said his mom “And this is his calling."

This story is sponsored by Kaiser PermanenteKING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email