AN ecology-conscious act, however small, is a significant contribution to the environment and to society. Ms Mary Riley, Chairwoman of Friends of the Earth (FoE), was commenting in connection with two FoE projects aimed at schoolchildren, from kindergarten to secondary school. Although the projects were just one part of FoE's large-scale goals, they were useful ways of raising public awareness of environment problems, she said. The two schemes, to promote the idea of recycling, were the Inter-school Aluminium Can Recycling Competition and the Recycling Bookmark Design Competition. In the first contest, schools will compete to collect the highest number of aluminium cans for recycling. In the second, participants will design bookmarks to promote recycling; winning designs will be printed by FoE for general distribution. A FoE member will give talks to participating schools on waste recycling. ''We find that public awareness about environment is growing very fast, and these two projects would do much to teach young people more about the need for recycling,'' Ms Riley said. ''However, we must not stop with the contests, but combine them with other environmental activities in schools,'' she added. ''Right now, the environmental curriculum is in its infancy, and in some schools it may not be as well developed as it could be.'' Nonetheless, several schools have a ''Green Student Action Group'', and an increasing number have some form of environmental education, often as part of science courses. ''We are not operating the competitions in a vacuum but in an environment where students already have some basic knowledge, through school, the media and various public service activities,'' Ms Riley said. She added that projects of a more sophisticated nature were being developed for older students at tertiary level. The most important one was the ''Green Drama'' programme where students write scripts for an annual drama competition on environmental issues. The students also produce and act in the plays. An exercise like this is a powerful way of getting across the ecology message to audiences, as well as emphasising the message among the participants themselves, Ms Riley said.