A GREEN-minded student from Windermere is doing her bit to raise awareness of plastic waste on the Cumbrian coast.

Megan Rose Atkinson, 21, is studying marine biology in Plymouth, and as part of her work is monitoring the presence of plastic on the county's beaches and its impact on marine wildlife.

The former Kendal College student is using her findings to encourage anybody walking on the county's beaches to pick up three pieces of plastic waste in an effort to reduce the damage it does to the environment.

"I have yet to properly analyse my findings, but from memory it is a lot worse this year compared to the research I did on the same beaches last year," Megan said.

"I am taking 60 metre stretches of the beaches, and splitting the area into four sections. I then take samples from these sections, which include the back beach, the mid beach and the most recent tide lines.

"A lot of plastic waste gets tangled in the algae. I have been finding a lot of plastic straws, bottle caps and ripped parts of carrier bags."

Megan, who has been interested in marine biology since she began to study it at college, also explained that tiny particles of plastic, broken down in the sea, are consumed by fish, and then in turn by the people who eat the fish.

Seabirds and marine mammals are also suffering as a result of eating plastic waste in the sea.

"It is a big issue now. It affects so many different people and animals. A lot of animals are dying," Megan said. "If everybody picks up just three bits of rubbish when they go to the beach, it will all add up.

"I have had a lot of interest from people who have seen me at work on the beach. My friends and family are also asking how they can get involved.

"There is a lot of interest on Facebook and social media with people wanting to reduce the amount of plastic they consume. Hopefully we will start to see a change sooner rather than later."