Sustainable Cities

It is estimated that by 2050, more than 70 percent of the world's population will be living in a city. It's time for America's largest cities to adopt a sustainable and responsible vision for the future. 

Building the Cities of Tomorrow

Imagine cities that are healthy places to live, where our resources are used responsibly, where the environment is protected, and where citizens are actively engaged in their communities.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund is working to build these cities of tomorrow.

It's estimated that by 2050, more than 70 percent of the world’s population is estimated to be living in a city. More and more Americans are looking to cities to meet their needs in a way that’s sustainable, equitable and beneficial to the world. As more of us live and work in urban areas, we have the opportunity to make them leaders in sustainable development.

We envision cities:

  • With 21st century transportation options. For decades, cities have focused on moving cars, not people. It’s time to focus on getting people where they need to go by giving them more and better options to get around. These options include expanded public transit, better biking alternatives, walkable neighborhoods and high-performance intercity trains.
  • Powered by 100% clean and renewable energy. As the threat of climate change continues to grow, the best way to fight it is to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to 100% renewable energy. By encouraging big box stores to switch to solar power, promoting residential solar options, increasing the number of charging stations for electric vehicles, and raising energy efficiency standards for commercial and residential buildings we can easily meet this goal.
  • Where food systems are healthy, sustainable and locally-sourced. We all eat. But the choices we make with our food can help or hurt our communities and our environment. By sourcing food that is raised sustainably, responsibly and low in carbon, we can boost our local economies, move away from factory farming, and create healthier communities.
  • With clean water and responsible waste management. Communities across the country face risks from polluted water systems and waste. Aging pipes, sewage overflows and toxins that travel from roads to our water supply can harm our health and the environment. We need policymakers to make sure everyone has access to healthy water by creating strong policies to repair aging infrastructure and addressing toxins in our water supply. We can also make sure our waste is disposed of responsibly and reduce our waste whenever possible. 
  • Where citizens are involved in their government and their community. When we are active and engaged in our communities, we can push for more sustainable policies and hold elected leaders accountable. To ensure all citizens have the opportunity to participate in their community, cities should make voting as easy as possible, champion open access to government data and level the playing field for small donors.  

 

Issue updates

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Potentially deadly Takata airbags force General Motors to recall 7 million vehicles

General Motors Corp. recalls 7 million of its vehicles that contain potentially deadly Takata airbags. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Blueprint for America

Americans agree: Our nation’s infrastructure needs work. This report provides the blueprint that should form the basis of an infrastructure plan that will make America stronger today and lay the foundation for a brighter future. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

35th annual Trouble in Toyland report uncovers mislabeled and dangerous toys

The 35th annual Trouble in Toyland report identifies nine toy hazards to help parents and caregivers create a play environment that's safer from dangerous products.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

35th Trouble in Toyland

The 35th annual Trouble in Toyland report identifies nine toy hazards, along with simple tips on how parents can keep their kids safer.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Solid Waste

Groups urge Whole Foods: Put planet over plastic by eliminating plastic packaging

AUSTIN, Texas -- Environment America Research & Policy Center, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and other nonprofits launched a national campaign on Tuesday calling on Whole Foods to change its practices on plastic packaging. The groups’ decision comes after the supermarket chain received an “F” for its policies on single-use plastic packaging from As You Sow, an environmental shareholder advocacy nonprofit.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Report calls for an end to rewarding waste makers

DENVER -- Election Day is less than a week away, and come January, returning and newly elected legislators will face a mounting plastic waste crisis. Nearly 100,000 tons of plastic -- enough to fill roughly 1.5 football stadiums -- are thrown away every day in the United States. On Thursday, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a report, Break the Waste Cycle, highlighting producer responsibility, an emerging trend in which product-makers – not individuals or taxpayers – are responsible for the waste they create.  

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, Health Care

Report: Nursing homes endure massive PPE shortages

Seven months into this pandemic, PPE shortages have become much worse, according to “Nursing home safety during COVID: PPE shortages,” a report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

COVID-19 pandemic worsens existing consumer problems with car buying

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG | Financial Reform

CFPB Director: Stop Letting Industry Violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act

We've joined the National Consumer Law Center in a news release describing a letter from 21 consumer and faith groups urging her to revoke permission to the credit reporting industry to violate consumer protections. 

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

FTC settles first case against VoIP provider for allowing illegal robocalls

This FTC settlement must be a wake-up call to phone service providers so they do more to protect consumers. If not, the FTC must be vigilant in going after companies that enable the immoral practice of preying on consumers. And the FCC should require providers to block spoofed calls that we all know are scams.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

High COVID-19 prices persist on Amazon

U.S. PIRG Education Fund searched Amazon and other major retailers for 10 of the most popular COVID-19 consumer products, and found that ridiculous pandemic pricing is still an issue. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Consumer Complaints Break Records

On the 10th anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) establishment as a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the law passed on 21 July 2010 and the Bureau opened its doors one year later), we look at the latest results from the CFPB’s public Consumer Complaint Database. This snapshot finds that, as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the financial situations of millions of Americans, consumer complaints to the CFPB have spiked to record levels.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Hospital Repair Restrictions

Our report on how manufacturers restrict repair for devices in hospitals, and how that impacts patient care. The report includes a survey of 222 medical device repair professionals, which highlights how widespread these issues are in hospitals, even during the pandemic. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Second Edition

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs asked students how the high cost of college course materials affects them. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Putting Consumers First

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the Student Borrower Protection Center and Consumer Action have released a report recommending that  CFPB should use the full extent of its authority to take immediate action to strengthen its consumer complaint tool, hold companies accountable for providing complete and timely responses to consumers, and leverage consumer complaints related to the pandemic to support oversight and regulatory action to protect consumers.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Why can I still buy toxic hand sanitizer? | Teresa Murray

The FDA doesn’t have the authority to stop retailers from selling dangerous over-the-counter products such as toxic hand sanitizer. Our safety system is broken, and we need to fix it. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Tenant protections from eviction and utility cutoffs vary by state | Jacob van Cleef

The CDC implemented the eviction freeze on Sept. 4 to reduce the number of people on the streets who could get infected with and spread the COVID-19 virus. Landlords and other groups filed lawsuits attempting to strike down the halt on evictions, so the future of the policy remains uncertain.

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Blog Post | COVID-19, Higher Ed

COVID-19 college reopening scorecard | Zack Szlezinger

Colleges all over the country have decided to open their doors to students, but reopening remains unsafe in nearly all states.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

Which retailers require customers to wear face masks? | Grace Brombach

Only four out of 20 major chain stores studied still allow customers to shop without face coverings

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a National Recycling Strategy draft for public comment through Dec. 4, 2020. The goal is to finalize the strategy by early 2021. The draft aims to identify clear objectives and actions needed to build a stronger, more resilient U.S. municipal solid waste recycling system. The document is organized around three objectives: 1) reduce contamination, 2) increase processing efficiency, and 3) improve markets.

Blog Post

Thoughts on the EPA’s National Recycling Strategy

Blog Post

Whether you have a loved one currently in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility, or whether you’re shopping for one, you should arm yourself with a list of questions to gauge how safe the environment is. Here’s a guide to those questions, and the answers you should expect.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

 On Jan. 20, 2021, the United States will have a new president, helping to turn the page on a brutal year of disease and disruption. While stark political divisions will undoubtedly remain, a new report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Environment America Research & Policy Center, and Frontier Group lays out a vision to bridge political divides through infrastructure investment, seizing a critical opportunity to emerge as a stronger nation after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Americans agree: Our nation’s infrastructure needs work. This report provides the blueprint that should form the basis of an infrastructure plan that will make America stronger today and lay the foundation for a brighter future. 

Solid Waste

New federal bill calls for U.S. to move beyond plastic

On Feb. 11, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal introduced legislation that would phase out unnecessary single-use plastics, which commonly end up clogging our landfills and polluting our environment. It also provides funding for recycling and composting infrastructure, and would shift the financial burden of managing waste and recyclables from town and city governments to the manufacturers.

 
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U.S. PIRG Education Fund is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.