One day when I was a little kid my father brought home a present for me. 

It was a bright red-orange toy canoe about ten inches long for me to play with in the bathtub.

The canoe was made of a new substance called plastic that had been developed during World War II, which had recently ended.

Whenever my parents had company over, Daddy had me bring out the canoe to show the guests. They all found it fascinating, and I was so proud to have a toy that grown-ups admired.

But the canoe didn’t last long. One evening I accidentally banged it against the side of the bathtub and it shattered.

Of course I had no idea back then that plastics would take over the world.

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