A pencil. One of the simplest pieces of creation, seemingly. It’s used for school, business, architecture, carpentry, designing, writing famous books. A kid drops it, breaks it and you can buy a whole new pack for a couple bucks. And yet a pencil is so much more than just a piece of wood and graphite with an eraser stuck on the end.
Think about it. Where does the pencil come from? Who made it? What work went into it? Where did the materials come from?
To get to the roots of the pencil, we go to the Northern Pacific US. There, a logger cuts down a tree. But in order to cut down the tree, in order to make the pencil, he has to have a chainsaw. To make the steel chainsaw blade, you need iron ore. The list could go on and on.
Once the tree is cut, you need trucks and cranes and other equipment to get it to the mill and the factory where you get it cut to proper size. After that it’s carted off using more machinery and people to the place it gets refined and put together with the other pieces.
Graphite comes from China, Hong Kong and South America. It’s mined and taken to a facility where it’s compressed, baked and compressed again. It’s then cut into strips and sent to the same factory where the wood is waiting for it. (more…)