Benj Miller, Founder and Creative Director of Syrup in Atlanta, narrates a delightful video about how the humble No. 2 pencil is the product of dozens of small businesses that are collectively arbiters of the global economy.
From the planters of forest land to the road crew that paves the streets the cedar trees travel on to be milled, to the graphite mined in Sri Lanka and mixed with clay from Georgia, to the rubber eraser that comes from Romania, where a South American businessman imports the raw material with help from the British government.
Then there's the little metal piece that clamps the eraser to the wooden shaft. It's called a ferrule (FUH-rule) and it's made from aluminum, zinc and copper -- all mined from different places around the world.
All of these bits and pieces must be assembled from across the globe, with contributions from dozens of small and medium sized businesses, to make the ordinary and ubiquitous No. 2 pencil.