RECENTLY an all-out effort by 57 schools to seek out aluminium cans in the territory created an astounding record: within two weeks, they collected over 70,000 cans, which if recycled, could produce 1.3 million more cans, 19 times more! Students searched their homes, country parks and all likely places for cans to create the highest record at the Inter-school Aluminium Can Recycling Competition last month. The contest organiser, the environmental body Friends of the Earth (FoE), also put students' artistic talents to work in the School Recycling Bookmark Design Competition. Over 2,000 primary and secondary students responded and invented slogans on waste minimisation and recycling. Ms Mei Ng, director of FoE, said the project effectively educated students that recycling cans saved up to 95 per cent of the energy used to make new cans. ''The students also got their families and relatives involved, which means that for every student two or more people got educated as well,'' she said. Belilios Public School topped the others by amassing 10,650 cans. Their success came from organising a similar can-recycling contest within their own school. ''We kept a daily record on a display board of the number of cans each class gathered, to stir up friendly competition,'' said fourth-former and team organiser Lam Ka-man. The students sold the cans for $300 and used the money to organise a tree-planting programme and an Environmental Friendly Costume-jewellery Design Competition, in which waste material like magazine paper was used creatively to invent fashions. The other two winners also wisely used the money they raised through a cans sale to initiate environmental and charitable activities. Ng Ka-lai of St Mary Canossian College won both the top prize and a merit prize in the senior category (secondary schools) of the bookmark competition. ''Recycling involves the whole earth,'' Ka-lai said. Her first-prize work depicted a smiling earth surrounded by items that could be recycled. It had a rhyming slogan: ''Recycling Protects Environment. Join Us, Be A Participant.'' Winners of the can recycling contest received certificates and a set of environment books while the bookmarks design winners got book coupons. The winning bookmarks are available free at the FoE's office as long as stocks last.