“Drop a pebble in the ocean and you never know where the ripples will lead.” My mom once told me that at some point when I was a youngster facing what seemed like an insurmountable challenge.

I now realize it’s a well-worn saying, but I’m reminded of it when, as individuals, we feel compelled to make a meaningful difference on weighty societal issues. As an individual, it can feel impossible. But I was — and I suspect you were, too — part of a simple, difference-making surge about 30 years ago. It started with a blue box.

Today’s wide-scale recycling programs emerged from a pilot project in Kitchener, Ont., in 1981. Five years later, the endeavour went provincewide. It has evolved significantly since, and while it isn’t perfect, it did change a societal norm — we no longer throw all our trash in the garbage.

Canadian Geographic has now introduced a similar revolution. In partnership with the Recycling Council of Ontario (the folks behind the blue box), and with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, we’ve launched 10,000 Changes, a multiplatform campaign to drive meaningful reductions in plastic use, production and waste.

The program aims to share information about the impacts of plastic and help individual Canadians and businesses make better choices about using plastic — with a particular emphasis on the scourge of marine microplastics.

Naturally, the wider topic is extremely important to Canadian Geographic, given our audience’s abiding interest in the environment generally. Indeed, while we’ve covered the issue in many forms in recent years, likely the most noteworthy was a long-form feature story exploring why Canada leads the developed world in per capita production of garbage by Charlie Wilkins. The piece won a Gold National Magazine Award in 2018 and has continually been one of the most-read stories on our website since it was first published in 2017.

You can learn more about the program and make your own commitments to the cause at 10000changes.ca. Let’s drop some pebbles.

Watch: Canadian Geographic editors share the commitments they’re making to reduce their plastic footprint

Related stories:

Douglas Coupland on the dark side of plastic

Why forensics could be key to untangling the ocean microplastics crisis