ENVIRONMENTALISTS often say the best hope for the future is to educate the young. But one group of youths has decided education isn't enough. Students at Hong Kong Polytechnic and City Polytechnic are in the midst of a campaign to not only raise awareness among their peers and younger brothers and sisters, but also to prompt them into action. Their concerns are not the big, abstract issues of cleaning up pollution and protecting nature; rather, they focus on the little things people can do in their daily lives. ''Many people talk about environmental protection in Hong Kong, but there hasn't been much practical action towards this,'' said Hong Kong Polytechnic student, Ann Leung Shuk-kuen, 21. That cannot be said about the three dozen students involved in organising the campaign and who have done the work on a voluntary basis in addition to their studies. The campaign kicked off with an environment week at both polytechnics in November. Recycled stationery and Christmas cards and biodegradable pens were sold to encourage students to use materials less harmful to the environment. Display boards were set up on the theme of individual action, alerting students to things such as the bad effects of some household detergents and the need to save electricity and water. The special focus of the week was a collection of old clothing, toys and story books for Vietnamese children - which gave the students a lesson in the value of recycling. About 20 boxes of materials were collected and have been distributed among the Vietnamese camps. ''We knew from the media that there was a great need for these things among the Vietnamese children, so we wanted to try and help,'' Ms Leung said. But the students had greater ambitions than to promote green ideas among themselves. ''We wanted to introduce the concept of environmental protection to all levels of students,'' Ms Leung said. They now are focusing their efforts on primary and secondary school students. Seeds and non-chemical fertiliser, made from egg shells, peanut shells and other natural materials, have been distributed to about 60 primary schools to enable the children to grow plants and appreciate nature. The schools have to provide the pots and soil. The best plants will be judged at a Fun Fair on March 20 at Sha Tin Central Park, and winners will be given book coupons. Secondary school students will be involved by running games stalls at the fair. About 18 schools have been invited to design, build and operate the stalls, which must have an environmental theme. Ms Leung said the campaign was hard work, but there was strong commitment among the polytechnic students. ''It's very tough, but it's very meaningful because the purpose of the project is a good one. And, on behalf of my committee, I think we have learned a lot,'' she said. Projects such as this one could be eligible for the new Green Project Awards being organised by the Caltex Green Fund and the South China Morning Post. Up to $1 million is available for projects in five categories: environmental groups, community and district groups, tertiary institutions (such as the polytechnics), primary and secondary schools, and individuals. Applications are available from district offices, green groups, major Caltex stations, and South China Morning Post bookstores. Proposals must be submitted by January 10.