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As U.S. military bases shut, what is the Pentagon to do with the tons of sludge contaminated with TNT? Enter Will Brinton, of Woods End Research Lab in Maine, who concocts recipes to induce naturally occurring bacteria to gobble up hazardous waste. Says Brinton, compost adviser to both Prince Charles and the Pentagon, “Instead of building plowshares from weapons, we’re actually building soil”abalm to environmentalists worldwide. Brinton, whose work is in growing demand, can even break down stubborn toxins like pesticides, industrial polymers, and paper-mill sludge. Some examples:

Bombs Away:
Blend a ton of waste from any mint (the plant) processing factory with TNT sludge. Mix well. Sprinkle in one ton of carbon-rich sawdust from a local lumber mill. Let stand. Spoon in a ton of buffalo manure. Bake for 30-90 days. Feed your flowers. (Warning: “Composting can produce an intense heat,” says Brinton, “which is the last thing you want with explosives.”)
Dancing with Cows:
A byproduct of the information age, ink from newspapers, magazines, copiers, faxes, and laser and ink-jet printers is everywhere. Its critical ingredient, PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon), also causes cancer. Brinton’s elixir: Shred newspapers, out-of-date phone books, Yellow Pages, and scrap paper. Knead into in situ dairy farm manure. Have mixture trampled underfoot by a herd of cows. Fertilize your crops.
Mudfish Stew:
Gas station owners are being increasingly pressured to remove their gas tanks, dig out contaminated soil, and dispose of it as hazardous waste. Cost per ton: $100. Brinton’s budget-stretcher is to combine six parts fish waste with diesel-contaminated soil. Ladle in four parts sawdust. Stir vigorously. Let marinate for a couple of months. Serve to plants.
Chicken Soup:
After fire ravaged an egg farm and smothered a flock of chickens, Brinton came up with this classic: Take 1,000 tons of rotting chicken carcasses and whisk in 1,000 gallons of sawdust. Stir thoroughly until chicken is coated, then pour in 1,000 gallons of chicken manure. Let mixture stew for eight weeks. Stir often. Yields enough fertilizer for one small farm.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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