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

Blog Post

Patient Guide: Surprise medical billing protections you can use now

The No Surprises Act went into effect on January 1, 2022. This patient guide is an easy way to understand your new patient protections. Important phone numbers and links to the federal complaint form are included. Put an end to surprise medical bills by knowing your rights under this new consumer law. 

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Blog Post

Patient Guide: Surprise medical billing protections you can use now

The No Surprises Act went into effect on January 1, 2022. This patient guide is an easy way to understand your new patient protections. Important phone numbers and links to the federal complaint form are included. Put an end to surprise medical bills by knowing your rights under this new consumer law. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Patient Guide: Surprise medical billing protections you can use now

The No Surprises Act went into effect on January 1, 2022. This patient guide is an easy way to understand your new patient protections. Important phone numbers and links to the federal complaint form are included. Put an end to surprise medical bills by knowing your rights under this new consumer law. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Statement: Cost overruns at Georgia nuclear reactors offer cautionary tale

 The only nuclear reactors under construction in the United States are now projected to cost more than $30 billion -- and the price tag for Plant Vogtle near Augusta, Georgia, doesn’t even include $3.68 billion that the project’s original contractor paid to the owners after going bankrupt.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The Path to Clean Transportation

Cities and states need to adopt policies and make investments designed to cut pollution and give people more options for getting where they need to go. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and NRDC

Consumer advocacy groups launch campaign to get Columbia Sportswear to phase out toxic ‘forever chemicals’

 

U.S. PIRG Education Fund and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) launched a campaign on Tuesday calling on outdoor gear and apparel brand Columbia Sportswear to phase out the use of PFAS in its products and supply chains. Last month, the company received low marks in a scorecard report released by the advocacy groups. The report found that Columbia Sportswear has failed to adopt policies that ban PFAS chemicals or provide up-to-date, publicly available information on any ongoing efforts to phase out these toxic chemicals from their products.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

New report: Several major cities have banned abusive towing practices in the last year

Parkers have always run the risk of getting towed. But a new trend exacerbates that risk: Towing companies are giving private property owners kickbacks when the landowner notifies the companies about vehicles to tow -- whether the vehicle is defying parking regulations or not.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund & Environment America Research and Policy Center

Interactive map shows widespread lead contamination in schools drinking water

Lead contamination of school drinking water is more pervasive than previously thought, according to testing data from across the nation published on Thursday by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund on a new interactive map. The groups urged public officials to take swift action to “get the lead out” of schools’ drinking water.

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

Student Borrower Protection Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund Spotlight Devastating Effects of Junk Fees

Today, in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) request for information (RFI) on harmful “junk fees,” the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund submitted comments exposing how financial service giants and universities are plaguing postsecondary students with unexpected, unavoidable, and hugely expensive charges on a range of financial products.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund, NRDC and Fashion FWD

New scorecard grades popular apparel brands on commitments to avoiding PFAS

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (NRDC) and Fashion FWD released a scorecard on Wednesday ranking popular retail and apparel brands on policy commitments to eliminate a dangerous class of toxic “forever chemicals,” known as PFAS, from their products.

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

Dark Patterns: A step-by-step guide to protect your privacy on your phone

Apps and social media are a part of everyday life. They help us stay connected to the world around us. But it can be easy to overlook the risk involved with making personal information accessible online, especially when that information can be recorded, bought and sold by the companies running the apps.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Failing the Fix

Grading laptop and cell phone companies on the fixability of their products

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Shifting Gears

The U.S. system of transportation finance, designed a century ago with the sole purpose of funding the construction of the nation’s highways, is today a major obstacle to a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable transportation system. Addressing the challenges of the 21st century will require a new paradigm for transportation finance – one that charges transportation taxes and fees that reflect the full costs of our transportation choices, and which prioritizes projects that deliver the greatest societal benefits in decisions over how to spend those dollars.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Food

Food recalls: 2021 Trends and What They Mean for You

There were 270 food and beverage recalls in 2021 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That marked a 27 percent decrease from 2020. But fewer recalls doesn’t necessarily mean safer food. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and National Farmers Union

Why Farmers Need Right to Repair

Farmers across the country have joined the call for Right to Repair reforms, which would expand repair choice by giving farmers and independent mechanics access to necessary repair materials at a fair and reasonable price. 

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Blog Post

Campaign for Columbia Sportswear Commitment to Eliminate PFAS Launched Today | Emily Rogers

Today U.S. PIRG Education Fund and NRDC launched a campaign to urge Columbia Sportswear to eliminate toxic PFAS in their products and supply chain by 2024. The campaign will engage everyday consumers through a petition drive and mobilize the public impacted by PFAS contamination.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

How to save money at the grocery store, despite food price inflation | Danielle Melgar

Here’s what you can do to ensure that rising food prices don’t break your bank.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB receives over 2,500 junk fee comments | Ed Mierzwinski

In response to a tidal wave of unfair marketplace practices, the CFPB asked the public to submit comments on the impact of junk fees on their lives. Some 2,500 comments later, consumers have described the pain points caused by unfair junk fees.

Cover graphic courtesy Student Borrower Protection Center, used by permission

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

8 ways you can be a smart consumer and also be kind to the environment | Teresa Murray

In recognition of Earth Day, here are some ways you can cut back on what you throw away and, in many cases, save money and protect yourself at the same time

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Blog Post

How giving a gift can embody the spirit of Earth Day all year around | Teresa Murray

PIRG’s guide to giving more by buying less offers environmentally friendly options

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

People and companies who own some 2021 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs should park outside, away from homes and other structures, according to a warning released Thursday by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). Lincoln is Ford’s luxury brand.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

As a growing number of studies have shed new light on the health and environmental harms of gas stoves, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center are releasing a new consumer guide that provides information on how to protect American families and the environment by switching to induction cooking.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

After decades of danger and more than 200 infant deaths, President Joe Biden signed the  Safe Sleep for Babies Act into law on Monday.

Solid Waste

PIRG hosts webinar with MythBusters' Adam Savage on Right to Repair

Our national network and the Right to Repair team organized a summit featuring keynote speaker Adam Savage from MythBusters. He shared his thoughts with us on the movement and we discussed our current progress on the Right to Repair campaign.

 

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.