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 | Consumer Tips

How to keep your child safe from Halloween's toxic terrors | Gina Werdel

The FDA doesn’t test for asbestos in cosmetics before they go to market. This Halloween, parents should check the label on kids’ costume makeup to avoid ingredients that put their kids at risk of exposure to toxic contaminants.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Break the waste cycle

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. Break the Waste Cycle highlights 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 | 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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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Nursing home safety during COVID: PPE shortages

Seven months into COVID-19 pandemic, 226,000 nursing home residents nationwide at risk

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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 | COVID-19

Consumer complaints about COVID-19 fraud pass 200,000

Consumer complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the coronavirus exceeded 200,000 on Thursday, Sept. 17, with a total of more than $140 million in fraud losses. This release summarizes actions by 15 federal agencies to stop fraud related to Covid-19 and offers consumer tips to report fraud and protect themselves against scams.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, price gouging persists 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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News Release | U.S. PIRG & Environment Texas

Statement: BioLab chemical fire during Hurricane Laura

As Hurricane Laura rushed through Louisiana and southeastern Texas early Thursday, a chemical plant caught fire in Lake Charles, La. The facility is reportedly leaking chlorine, which can cause blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, and even fluid in the lungs. To prevent or mitigate future disasters like this, we must minimize our reliance on dangerous chemicals and fossil fuels.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Hand sanitizers pose ongoing threat to consumer health

Consumers using hand sanitzer to kill the coronavirus may be unwittingly putting toxic substances on their skin. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and National Taxpayers Union Foundation | Tax

Toward Common Ground 2020

Even before COVID-19, the U.S. was on track to surpass a $1 trillion deficit. Current projections are climbing much higher. Once the immediate health crisis begins to subside, lawmakers will face the challenge of adopting a 2021 federal budget in a time of reduced revenue. U.S. PIRG Education Fund and National Taxpayers Union Foundation have come together to recommend over 50 bipartisan spending reform recommendations for Congress, totaling nearly $800 billion in savings.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The Fix Is In

Our survey of 302 independent repair technicians shows that independent shops offer more options for repair, but are struggling to access parts, service information and repair software which is necessary to fix phones — which manufacturers won’t let these independent shops have.

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

Automatic textbooks billing: an offer students can't refuse?

New report says deals with publishers could make college textbooks more expensive

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

Beyond Single-use Plastics

Every day, we use millions of plastic bags, straws and utensils, and foam cups and containers for just a few minutes before tossing them, and then they can pollute our environment for hundreds of years. We can protect our health and marine animals by banning or limiting these products, as hundreds of communities and nine states have already done. Banning Single-use Plastics describes the specific problems, actions, and best practices for reducing these polluting items.

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

Food Recall Failure

Our research found the majority of grocery stores fail to warn the public about hazardous food recalls. While they collect significant information about Americans shopping habits to sell us more food, they aren't doing enough to use that information to protect the public health.

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Blog Post

Smoke is Not a Joke | Gina Werdel

Wild fires in the West have created some of the worst air quality of anywhere in the world right now. This isn't just an issue for children or people with pre-existing conditions, it's a health risk for everyone.

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Blog Post

Update: How are the major airlines protecting their passengers from COVID-19? | Grace Brombach

From requiring masks, to blocking middle seats, to cleaning between flights, not all airlines are taking equal steps to protect passengers

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Blog Post

Let's use Mesothelioma Awareness Day to reduce the threat of asbestos in our schools | Danielle Melgar

As we approach Mesothelioma Awareness Day on September 26 amidst a pandemic that is keeping many school children home for another academic year, we should take the opportunity to clean up our school buildings of toxic threats, including asbestos, a known cause of mesothelioma.

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Blog Post | Higher Ed

The 2020 Open Textbook Pilot: why it matters and how to apply | Cailyn Nagle

The U.S. Department of Education is distributing $7 million in grants to support open textbook creation and adoption. Here's what you should know before you apply.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Transportation

Riding a bus, subway or rideshare? Here’s a look at safety measures adopted to combat COVID-19 | Jacob van Cleef

From mask mandates to capacity limits, the largest public transit systems and ride share companies have new procedures

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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.