If you are a netizen, it is high chance that you have already seen a clip in which a group of volunteers is trying to pick a straw out of the nose of a turtle. During the process, the turtle cries while the plastic straw is being taken out bit by bit. Its bleeding nose tells us the straw had been stuck inside for too long.

As a turtle, it could not say “no” to a plastic straw or other plastic waste floating in the sea. But as a human being who is adding more waste to earth, we can simply say “no” to plastic straws when eating out (or even at home).

In the past two years, Trash Hero – a volunteer group that regularly organises beach clean-up, has encouraged people to give up the use of plastic straws.

Its banner says: “Straws provided on request To reduce the amount of plastic waste that goes to landfills and ocean each year and support Trash Hero volunteers cleaning our local beaches, we skip the straws in our drinks.”

The banner is for the restaurants to explain to their customers why straws aren’t automatically provided like before, and to encourage customers to give up the unnecessary use of plastic.

The trend has been welcomed by a group of urbanites who are well aware of the plastic pollution. Many already started to carry their own reusable straws, made from aluminium or bamboo. Some also have a set of personal eating utensils such as fork, spoon and chopsticks, to minimise the possibility to use disposable utensils when getting around.

According to Green World Foundation, plastic straws are listed as top five “must-avoids”. Others on the list are disposable eating utensils, plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic bags and plastic containers.

There’s no official statistics of how many plastic straws we are using each day. But it is already reported that the Americans are using 500 million straws on a daily basis. But Thais are second to none. According to a seminar earlier this year, there is about 10 million tonnes of waste being disposed each year in 23 porvinces along the shoreline. Anbout 10% are plastic straws.

Some do not realise that straws, the small piece of plastic, are not recycleable. It is used only for less than an hour but takes hundreds of years to decompose.

But one can never know if the used straws will be properly managed. Many of them are washed out into the ocean. These pieces of plastic waste have been mistaken as food and consumed by sea inhabitants. Apart from plastic straws, other plastic waste such as plastic ring (from beer package) has been seen to accidentally wrap a turtle, resulting in it disfigured shell.

Although these sea lives seem irrelevant to our daily lives especially those living in a city far away from the beach, one can’t be sure that their straws are properly managed and will never be washed out into the sea – and will probably hurt any turtles.

Everyone of us is a waste producer. But we can change to improve it by saying “no” to plastic straws.

The amount of waste can be reduced if everyone starts to realise that we should produce more waste only at the minimum.