…some thought we could still salvage our planet by “going green.” We might have, if enough people had cared. But they hadn’t. The rich were too rich, the poor were too poor, and the middle class—let’s be honest—were only poor people with bigger houses, driving better cars.
Want is a cautionary tale set in near-future Taiwan that warns readers of what will happen if we don’t stop destroying the planet. Taipei is covered in smog, and the majority of its citizens are mei, impoverished people who are likely to die before 40 because they don’t have protection from pollution. The you live in luxury, spending exorbitant amounts of money on suits that ensure them long life spans and frequent cosmetic surgeries.
The plot drops you right in the thick of things at the start of the book, which I loved. There’s a great cast of characters too! Jason, the protagonist, has some really great development. He’s a mei, but he dons a suit and infiltrates the yous in order to carry out his mission to take down a corrupt company. He begins to fall into the routine of living in comfort, and he doubts himself a lot. His group of friends was amazing—I kind of wish we had seen more of them. It’s comprised of a bisexual boss girl, an acrobat who barely speaks, an Indian scientist with spiky orange hair, and a suave Filipino guy who always wears a suit. So much diversity! Not to mention, Daiyu, the love interest, was also a great character, and there was so much chemistry between her and Jason.
As far as the writing, it was pretty good. My main nitpicky complaint is that sometimes the phrasing was a bit awkward and the sentences could’ve flowed better—there were way too many sentences that started with “And…” I understand that authors have creative license and don’t always need to follow grammar rules, but a lot of the time, there didn’t even seem to be a reason for having two separate sentences.
Overall, this book is so important—it tackles themes of protecting the planet, wealth, the power that corporations have over our lives, and privilege, all wrapped together with an action-packed heist story line. Want was a great reminder to me about why I need to do everything in my power to protect the planet, which is why I’ve decided to compile a list of easy, cost-effective, everyday things that normal people like you and I can do to help.
Obviously, donating a million dollars to an organization, using only solar power, or driving an electric car is great, but most people just can’t do something like that. Big, extravagant things aren’t the only way to help though—here are ten ways people like you and I can help save the world. They may not seem like a lot, but if everyone does these little, easy things, the difference will be astronomical. Power to the people!
#1: Take a shower, and make it short
Taking short showers saves so much more energy than having a bath, so if you have a shower, use it! If you’re like me and you have trouble getting out of the shower once you get in, here are two strategies you can use:
1) set a timer for 2-8 minutes—the shorter the better, but do whichever is the most reasonable for you. When the timer goes off, get out of the shower!
2) Take what my family calls a “one-song shower.” The rules are simple: put on a song that’s a normal length (about 3-5 minutes) right before you get in the shower. The only rule is that the shower has to be off my the time the song is over. It produces the same effect, but in my opinion, this option is a lot more fun, which makes it easier to save energy.
#2: Carry your food and drinks to school/work in a reusable container
Instead of using plastic baggies, brown paper bags, throw-away water bottles, and plastic utensils, bring things from home that you can clean off and reuse. You can get a pretty cheap lunch box on Amazon, and reusable water bottles can be found at pretty much any drug store (I know they have them at my CVS.) It might be annoying to invest in reusable containers now, but it’ll pay off: it helps reduce the amount of waste you have, and you don’t have to keep buying new baggies, water bottles, etc.
#3: Limit the amount of electricity you use
It may seem difficult now, but turning off the lights every time you leave the room really isn’t that hard, and it certainly makes a difference. Another thing you can do (and I know I need to work on this) is unplug your chargers when you’re not using them. Leaving things plugged in when you’re not using them wastes so much electricity. This works for other things too—your lamp, your toaster, and your electric toothbrush probably don’t need to be plugged in 24/7.
#4: Turn off the water when you brush your teeth
And that brings me to my next point: when you’re brushing your teeth, only turn the water on when you actually need to. It’s a little tedious to keep turning it on and off, but you can save a lot of water that would be wasted if you left it on the whole time.
#5: Adapt to temperatures yourself
Heaters, air conditioning, and fans all take a lot of energy (and money!) to use. Next time you’re feeling a tad warm and want to turn on the fan, think about taking off your sweater or opening a window instead.
#6: Don’t litter
I actually have no idea why anybody would think it’s okay to throw trash on the ground, but just to clarify: LITTERING IS BAD. When you litter, the trash could get eaten by animals who then get sick from it, it could end up in the ocean, and it makes your neighborhood look really ugly. Put your trash in your pocket or backpack or the trash can or whatever. Just don’t do it. And if you see a candy wrapper on the ground, it isn’t that hard to pick it up! Whether you put it there or not, ignoring litter is contributing to the problem.
#7: Use energy-efficient light bulbs and rechargeable batteries
Energy-efficient light bulbs (usually they’re the curly ones) use a lot less energy, as you may have guessed from the name. They’re generally more expensive, but it pays off for you in the long run because they last longer than other light bulbs. The same goes for rechargeable batteries—they cost more up front, but once you recharge them three or four times, you end up saving money because you don’t have to buy new batteries.
#8: Reuse, sell and donate things
Repurpose your old things into new things so you don’t have to throw them out. For example, I used old magazine pages to make envelopes. (See them here.) If you can’t reuse something, there’s probably someone else who wants it. Bring clothes to thrift or consignment stores. Donate old books to to your local library if they accept donations, give them away to friends and family, or put them in a little free library. And there’s always sites like ebay and depop where you can sell your old stuff!
#9: Bike, walk, or take public transit
Cars are so bad for the environment. Think about it this way: if ten people all drive in separate cars to school or work, they produce a lot of pollution. If those ten people all ride on the same bus or train, the air is still being polluted, but only one vehicle is polluting the air instead of ten different vehicles. Or, even better, bike or walk if you can. It’s good for the environment and your health!
#10: Use both sides of the paper
I am definitely guilty of only using one side of sheets of paper. It’s so wasteful though, so I definitely need to work on this. It doesn’t really matter if your notes show through a bit to the next page, as long as they’re legible. Also, if you have old worksheets, bills, etc. and the paper is in good condition, consider keeping a small pile or drawer of scrap paper. Then, next time you need to write a shopping list, a to-do list a reminder, etc., you don’t need to use a new sheet of paper. Conserving paper is so important because deforestation is such a big problem for ecosystems, for the air we breathe, and for wildlife.
I hope you found something in here that was useful! It is so important to me that everyone works hard to make sure that the world doesn’t end up polluted and destroyed like it does in Want. This is something I’m really passionate about, so thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please tell me in the comments if you have any other ideas about how to help the planet—I would love to hear from you, and you might help someone else too! Also, let me know if you’ve read Want and what you thought of it!