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Students saving the planet - with dresses made of socks

Students who entered the hip and eco-friendly alternative to the Young Scientist exhibition have made dresses from old socks and greenhouses from plastic bottles to spread awareness about the environment.

The Young Environmentalist Award, which takes place this Wednesday has encouraged secondary school students to come up with creative ways to save the planet. The 'Plastic Fantastic Greenhouse' has one entry to the competition which was made from old 7UP bottles by students from St Brendan's College in Bray.

Another group made a juice and smoothie maker called 'Rejuice your journey', by attaching it to their bicycle to raise awareness about cycling and using energy.

Rebecca Dunne from Dominian College, Drumcondra, Dublin collected 660 mobile phones for the Jack and Jill Foundation for her project.

"We've been collecting them since the start of the year, and we had a large collection after Christmas, but we're going to keep going for a few more days to see if we get any more." She added: "We had posters all over the school and we held a raffle as an incentive. We also asked other schools in the area to put a box there, and we put them in local shops as well."

Rebecca said one of the things she learned from doing the project is that people are not prepared to give their mobile phones away, even if they have bought a new one.

"People don't want to part with their mobile phones, but if you try hard enough you can raise funds for a charity."

Another group of girls did a project called 'Beauty and the Bike', which showed girls how to put on make-up which will not be ruined on the way to school on the bike.

Meanwhile, Elaine Neville, National Director of Eco Unesco, said the competition has been one of the most creative so far.

"The group from Galway that made a juicer and smoothie maker by hooking it up to a bike just went to their local bike shop and took lessons in basic engineering and hooked up a juicer to the bike.

"They made me smoothies and juices on the day I visited them. It was just fantastic."

Many of the projects centred around growing vegetables and seeds, according to Ms Neville, and students even tackled unused sites in their locality for planting.

"Students did stuff like guerrilla gardening where they'd spot a patch of green space and throw seeds in and try to plant it," said Elaine.

The awards began in 1999, and this year the winner will get €500, with separate prizes for different categories.