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

McDonald’s commits to eliminating toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in food packaging globally

McDonald’s announced a commitment to eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging used in its restaurants by 2025. PFAS are linked to kidney and liver problems, high cholesterol, reduced immune system function, and cancer.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Rebooking airline tickets: How to sort out various vouchers and credits for future flights | Jacob van Cleef

With vaccines here, it may soon be time to reschedule vacations and other trips for later this year

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Solid Waste

U.S. PIRG launches ‘Waste is Out of Fashion’ campaign

DENVER --- Every second, the equivalent of one dump truck filled with clothing and other textiles from around the world is sent to a landfill or incinerator. Perhaps even more upsetting, many of the clothes were never even worn. Clothing companies commonly destroy, incinerate or send to the landfill unsold and unused clothing, known as overstock, to make way for new merchandise. To address the huge amount of clothing that is wasted and turned into environmental pollution each year, U.S. PIRG and state PIRGs launched a campaign on Tuesday calling on states to hold the industry accountable for its overproduction and ban the destruction of overstock.


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Blog Post

A winter during COVID-19: How to stay healthy and hopeful | Grace Brombach

The winter months can feel like they last forever - especially during a pandemic. Here are some ways to keep yourself healthy and to shake off that restless, post-December feeling.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Make It Toxic-Free Cosmetic Clean-Out Week of Action | Gina Werdel

It shouldn't be consumers' responsibility to make sure the products we use on our bodies don't contain toxic chemicals that can make us and our loved ones sick. But until governments and companies adopt the necessary policies to protect us and ensure our products are safe, we can take steps to clean up our routine. Join us for Cosmetic Clean-Out Week January 11-15, 2021.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Deals with publishers could make college textbooks more expensive

A new report reveals insufficient or disappearing discounts, structures designed to force students into the program, and missing information. This all leaves students, professors, and college administrators in the lurch.

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

The best way to fight plastic pollution? Ban single-use plastics.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group released comprehensive fact sheets about plastic pollution on Thursday. Banning Single-Use Plastics puts forward specific policies to ban or restrict the worst plastic pollution, including plastic bags, foam cups and containers, and plastic straws and utensils.

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

New investigation: Supermarkets failing to warn public about food recalls

Americans are not hearing about food recalls, and that communication breakdown is having serious repercussions for public health. A new report finds that most grocery stores -- which should be one of the best places to learn about recalls -- don’t make it easy for consumers to uncover this information.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Hack doesn’t absolve Equifax of being careless with consumers’ data

Congress must hold companies accountable for failing to protect condumers' confidential information.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

New investigation reveals need for long-delayed car seat safety standards

An investigation into EvenFlo's booster seat safety testing for side-impact collisions has emphasized the need for stronger car seat safety regulations.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

From Deceit to Transformation

Volkswagen (VW) perpetuated a fraud on the American people, deceiving consumers into believing that they were getting the best possible combination of performance and sustainability. But VW’s promises were nothing more than lies that significantly harmed our collective health and the health of our environment. As a result of the settlements that followed this fraud, an Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT) was set up with $2.9 billion dollars to be distributed to states to reduce transportation emissions.

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

Protecting Those Who Serve

This report, the tenth in our series on the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database, is called "Protecting Those Who Serve." It is an analysis of over 44,000 consumer complaints from active-duty servicemembers, veterans and their families. The report also explains the work the CFPB and its Office of Servicemember Affairs does to protect military families in the financial marketplace. Debt problems also are a leading cause of revoking secuirty clearances, which affects military preparedness.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group | Budget

Following the Money 2017: Special Districts

Citizens’ ability to understand how their tax dollars are spent is fundamental to democracy. Budget and spending transparency holds government officials accountable for making smart decisions, checks corruption, and provides citizens an opportunity to affect how government dollars are spent.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund & Frontier Group | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 3

America’s infrastructure is in rough shape. Many of our roads, bridges and transit systems are aging and in need of repair. Yet, year after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars’ worth of new and expanded highways that often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and 21st century transportation priorities.

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

Medical Debt Malpractice

Millions of Americans are contacted by debt collectors every year over debt related to medical expenses. "Medical Debt Malpractice" is the latest (9th) in our series based on analysis of complaints in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's public complaint database. The report demonstrates that the CFPB is a critical agency protecting consumers against unfair financial practices and needs to be defended against special interest attacks.

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Blog Post | COVID-19, Higher Ed

Fall Update: Meeting Student Basic Needs During COVID-19 | Zack Szlezinger

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting campuses nationwide. Here are a few of the ways that institutions are stepping up to meet students’ basic needs during the new term

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Blog Post

The Right to Repair could help address a critical shortage in school computers | Nathan Proctor

Buying a refurbished computer can save money and cut waste. It might also be a key strategy in addressing the digital divide

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Purell is shipping to stores again; FDA steps up crackdown on methanol in sanitizer | Teresa Murray

Shortage of active ingredients for sanitizer could be linked to use of toxic ingredients

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Blog Post

Peaches recalled in 35 states after 68 people contract Salmonella | Teresa Murray

ALDI and Target are removing bagged, loose Wawona peaches in 20 states

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

According to our new report, putting a price on carbon can be key to the success of both. In Carbon Pricing 101: Strategies for putting a price on global warming pollution, we recommend that the federal government and U.S. states pursue carbon pricing programs, along with other policies, to cut pollution, as the best way to achieve the emissions reductions necessary to stave off the worst of global warming.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

U.S. policymakers must use every practical policy tool to tackle climate change – promoting rapid deployment of renewable energy sources, investing in research and development of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency and taking regulatory actions to push polluters away from using dirty fossil fuels. A central element in this strategy should be putting a price on carbon pollution. This new report shows how carbon pricing can be used to push polluters to use energy more efficiently and shift from oil, coal and natural gas to clean, renewable energy.

Blog Post

 

Saturday, April 24, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

DENVER — U.S. PIRG and Environment America hosted a virtual road trip Friday with state representatives and senators from across the country to celebrate and discuss dozens of policies to combat the plastic pollution crisis. The nationwide rally touched on efforts to hold companies, such as Whole Foods, accountable for their contribution to the problem, as well as highlighting groundbreaking federal legislation such as the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

BOSTON - The Student PIRGs, a student environmental organizing group, is partnering with local organizations, student governments and elected officials to host in-person and virtual actions to celebrate Youth Earth Week, a national effort of more than 250 actions around the country to protect the environment, from April 19 to 23.

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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This Earth Day

Let's work together to move companies, our state, our nation and ourselves beyond plastic.




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.