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Articles by Elizabeth Manning

Elizabeth Manning is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and previously wrote for Willamette Week in Portland, Ore., and High Country News in Paonia, Colo.

Featured Article

John Dean is never still when he’s at his composting and recycling facility, tucked behind the airport in Anchorage, Alaska. Dressed in his usual baseball cap and a T-shirt that reads “Compost — Because a Rind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste,” Dean splits his days between the seat of a backhoe and his mobile-home office. One minute he’s loading chocolate-brown compost into a customer’s pickup. The next he’s yelling at a worker who’s scooping compost from the wrong row.

John Dean and his Sneetch-starring machine.

“Hey, not that pile,” he shouts on a recent Saturday before sprinting over to tap the worker’s shoulder.

Dean then turns his attention to his brand-new glass crusher, which pulverizes glass containers, dumps the glass grit through a series of bucket conveyors, and runs it through sifting screens. He scoops up a golden handful and lets it run through his fingers. “Looks good,” he says, flashing a grin before dashing off to the next task.

Dean, 68, could be spending his retirement chasing balls around a golf course. Instead, the former engineer... Read more