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.
“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