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 | US PIRG | Consumer Protection

Statement: Safe Sleep Act passes House, awaits vote in Senate

In an effort to protect infants from unsafe consumer products, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Solid Waste

Statement: Target’s new plastic packaging goal is a step in the right direction

The Fortune 50 retailer Target announced a new goal Tuesday to reduce its use of virgin plastic 20 percent by 2025 across its own brand frequency products. It is part of a new sustainability strategy called Target Forward and covers such key categories as household cleaning, personal care and beauty.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

New report: the hidden costs of peer-to-peer payment apps

Consumer complaints about peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps such as PayPal, Venmo and Square have surged during the pandemic year. In April, there were 970 digital wallet complaints — almost double the previous monthly high from July 2020. PIRG Education Fund analyzed this growing problem for a new analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) Consumer Complaint Database.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Virtual Wallets, Real Complaints

New report documents consumer complaints to the CFPB about digital wallets and peer-to-peer (P2P) apps.

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Blog Post

Man lost $124,000 in Amazon scam. Here are 10 ways to keep it from happening to you | Teresa Murray

In light of some of these newer cons, here is actionable information to help you avoid the aggravation, time and financial losses that come with sophisticated scams.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Study: CFPB complaints shattered records in 2020, exposing how the COVID-19 pandemic battered consumer finances

Consumer complaints about problems with financial companies such as banks, credit bureaus and debt collectors rose by more than 50 percent in 2020 and set new records for each month of the year, according to a new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. 

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Public Health, Health Care

NURSING HOMES STILL DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MASKS, GOWNS, OTHER PPE

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.

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

New report: Toxic waste cleanup efforts lag, putting Americans at risk

One in six Americans lives within three miles of a toxic waste site so dangerous that it has been approved or proposed for cleanup under the federal government’s “Superfund” program. However, there’s not enough money to pay for that vital work, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data detailed in a new report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center.

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

U.S. PIRG Education Fund urges the public to hold Coca-Cola accountable on its pledge to reduce plastic use

The Coca-Cola Company, a top plastic polluter according to a 2020 Brand Audit from the nonprofit Break Free From Plastic, announced a new commitment today to start using plastic bottles made with 100 percent recycled plastic for select brands in some U.S. states. According to the company, it would account for a nearly 20 percent reduction of new plastic used in North America compared to 2018. The commitment follows similar ones made by other major consumer goods companies, recently documented by U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

You're Not Alone

While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new director entertains removing its consumer complaint database from public view, that website feature is proving its worth. The CFPB published a record 257,000 consumer complaints in 2018, according to a new report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund & Environment California Research and Policy Center | Transportation

Ready to Charge

Global warming is already impacting California in devastating ways. In 2018, wildfires ravaged the state, with the deadliest wildfire in history, the Camp Fire, killing at least 85 people, and the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state, the Mendocino Complex, burning almost half a million acres. For nearly seven years, the state has been experiencing a drought, which has greatly impacted agriculture and water resources. At the same time, rising sea levels threaten coastal communities with flooding, erosion and mudslides.

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Report | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

The Real Price of Medications

People living in the United States have access to some of the best medical care in the world, from life-saving drugs to cutting-edge surgical techniques. But our system is deeply flawed, with spiraling costs forcing many Americans to spend more on care and often receiving poor quality care for all the extra money spent.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Glyphosate In Beer and Wine

Roundup is everywhere. As the most commonly used agrichemical in the world, Roundup and its main active ingredient, glyphosate, is showing up in places people do not expect, such as food and drinks. In this report, we tested beer and wine and found glyphosate in beer and wine from the U.S., Europe, and Asia. We even found glyphosate in some unexpected places, such as in some organic varieties.

 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Climate Solutions from Day One

New governors are getting ready to take office in 20 states, from Florida to Alaska. As America’s newly elected governors prepare to take on their states’ biggest challenges, they should prioritize taking bold action on the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

22 ways to protect yourself from fraud, identity theft and headaches | Teresa Murray

Fraud/ identity theft is the No. 1 complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, with 2.2 million complaints last year. Consumers reported losing $3.3 billion last year, up from $1.8 billion in 2019.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Fraudulent unemployment claims: You could be next -- here's what to do | Jacob van Cleef

Fraudulent unemployment claims have been on the rise during the pandemic. Scammers received more than $36 billion by fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits last year, with millions of cases of fraud suspected. You could be next.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection

How to get your stimulus payments when you file your tax return | Teresa Murray

Some of your friends or relatives have received two COVID-19 relief/ stimulus payments in the past year. And a third may be on the way soon. If you haven’t received anything yet and believe you should have, don’t fret.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection

Tips to file your tax return while avoiding fees, scams | Jacob van Cleef

You have six weeks to file your income tax return for 2020. Every year, it seems there are more issues to watch out for. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection

The worst consumer problem: Fraud/identity theft | Teresa Murray

One in 20 people was a victim in 2019. Account takeovers, which involve a criminal gaining access to an existing account, soared by 72 percent in 2019.

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Blog Post

Until recently, I did not have estate and end-of-life planning in mind, but it was the natural next step in my quest to be a responsible adult, with a nudge from the existential threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

News Release | US PIRG Education Fund

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday evening that a nationwide Salmonella outbreak stems at least in part from whole onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed in this country by ProSource Inc.

Blog Post

The EPA has banned chlorpyrifos from our food. It doesn’t belong where Americans golf either.

Blog Post

Advance directives are legal instructions that include a living will (different from a regular will) and a health care proxy. In them, you state what treatments you do or don’t want at the end of your life and who you want making health care decisions for you if you can’t. 

Blog Post

With the overwhelming number of reviews found both on website listings and social media, we pulled together the best tips to spot fake reviews when shopping online.

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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