Going plastic-free? Should you throw away your plastic items?

The chances are that your house is full of plastic – kids’ toys, Tupperware, your washing machine, polyester clothing and plant pots, to name just a fraction of the plastic in the average home.

If you are now looking to lead a plastic-free lifestyle then you should be commended, because you face some big challenges ahead.

However, there is some debate about what you should do with all your existing plastic belongings when you embark on your plastic-free quest.

Should you keep them, or throw them out?

The arguments for throwing out your plastic items are simple. Choosing to live plastic-free means just that –living plastic free. If you want to document your progress it would be hypocritical to keep using all your convenient plastic goods.

Not throwing your plastic items away is more complex and, I would argue, the best decision.

By throwing useful items away (and no one can deny the fact that plastic is useful) you are contributing to the consumerist, disposable culture that has had such a detrimental effect on the environment.

Any new items that are purchased to replace the previous plastic items still use precious resources and will have a carbon footprint. They may not cause plastic pollution, but they do cause other damage to the environment.

I have seen photos on social media of people piling plastic bin bags up that are full of plastic items and clothing as they embark on their plastic-free existence. This somewhat defeats the object of having less plastic waste.

I greatly admire people with the audacity to rid themselves of all plastic, but I worry that throwing everything away in order to start again is a tokenism that will do more harm than good, much like sending plastic back to the supermarket.

However, many people will take the opposite view and we are all on the same team, so I respect their views.

Remember, if you do want to rid yourself of plastic, do so responsibly. Take as much as possible to your local charity shop, any that is not suitable for charity should be taken to your local tip where the staff can tell you what is and isn’t suitable for recycling.

No matter what way you choose to reduce your plastic waste, whether it is small changes in your shopping, or taking one giant leap, well done, together our small changes will make a big difference.