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

Overdoses on the rise - quality addiction treatment can help | Patricia Kelmar

 

New consumer tool helps families searching for quality facilities

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PIRG, other consumer groups urge DOT Secretary Buttigieg to do more to protect consumers

Representatives of several leading U.S. consumer and traveler groups today met with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg to urge action on the most pressing consumer protection priorities affecting consumers flying commercial airlines. It was the first time representatives of consumer groups were granted a meeting with a U.S. Secretary of Transportation in nearly five years.

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

Report: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turns 10

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turns 10 years old, a new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund recaps how the agency has helped consumers over the past decade and the steps under way to refocus the CFPB on its mission after three years of retrograde decisions under the Trump Administration.

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

The CFPB Turns 10

This report recaps the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s results for consumers over the past 10 years, the steps taken to return the CFPB back to its mission after three years of retrograde decisions under the Trump Administration, and our recommendations for CFPB action moving forward.

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Blog Post

Another longtail of COVID-19: medical debt | Patricia Kelmar

How the pandemic has worsened the medical debt crisis

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Pages

News Release | PIRG Education Fund

Burger King indicates it is testing alternatives to toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in food packaging

In a shareholder meeting Wednesday, Jose Cils, CEO of Restaurant Brands International, parent company of Burger King, suggested that the fast food giant was testing alternatives to toxic PFAS in its food packaging. Representatives on the customer service line indicated that the company would do so by the end of the year.

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News Release | US PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Statement: Beech-Nut to stop selling some rice cereal over arsenic concerns

Beech-Nut will stop selling all single grain rice cereal after Alaska state officials discovered high arsenic levels during routing sampling, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement released Tuesday.

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News Release | US PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Statement: CPSC vote to regulate infant sleep products will save lives

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approved tough new standards Wednesday to regulate several infant sleep products for the first time.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Amazon* shareholders fail in opportunity to cut plastic waste

A shareholder proposal aimed at getting Amazon.com, Inc. to reduce its significant plastic footprint did not garner the necessary votes to pass at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday. The proposal did earn a notable 35 percent of the vote.

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

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Third Edition

 COVID-19 has raised the barriers students face both financially and technologically to access course materials, even if it has not necessarily made course materials more expensive. Students who lost jobs due to the pandemic or who lacked reliable internet access were hardest hit by course materials costs. These problems will persist past the public health crisis without increased funding and implementing long term policies that prioritize access and affordability.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Superfund Underfunded

In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), informally called Superfund. The Superfund program was given the authority and funds to hold polluters responsible for cleaning up contaminated waste sites or clean up the sites themselves if no responsible party can be found or afford the cleanup. These toxic waste sites house some of the most “hazardous chemicals known to humankind.” The Superfund toxic waste program protects people from these contaminants and the serious health problems associated with them.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Accelerating the Transition to Electric School Buses

This new report explains how school districts and utilities can work together to acclerate the switch to electric school buses, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the health of the kids that ride them everyday. 

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Report | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Nursing home safety during COVID: Staff shortages

For most of last year, more than 200,000 people at any given time were in nursing homes that themselves acknowledged they were suffering from staff shortages.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

1 Year Later: Comparing Pre-Pandemic prices to Today's on Amazon

U.S. PIRG Education Fund's third and most comprehensive report into pandemic price gouging on Amazon compares pre-pandemic prices to today's on 750 products, from 15 essential product categories.

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Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection

Waking up to the dangers of inclined infant sleepers | Teresa Murray

If you’re stunned that safety standards for inclined sleepers weren’t required before, get this: The new rules don’t take effect for a year. That’s one of the problems in the world of infant sleep.

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Blog Post

Having a Zero Waste Cookout | Alex Truelove

This blog post was guest written by Joshua Gregory

One thing that often gets overlooked at cookouts is the sheer amount of waste that these events create. By being conscious and taking a few extra steps when planning a cookout, we can all reduce the amount of waste we create, and in many ways, have better cookouts than before. Here’s how I did it, and how you can too:

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Shareholders push back against Microsoft’s backwards stance on repair | Nathan Proctor

As Microsoft joins the $2 trillion club, a shareholder group presses for Right to Repair 

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Blog Post

Burger King signals intention to move away from PFAS in packaging | Henry Hintermeister

Burger King customer service staff told concerned callers in June that the company plans to phase out PFAS in its packaging by the end of 2021.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Robocalls are declining but not gone yet, so remember these tips to protect yourself | Teresa Murray

With the new federal law that takes effect June 30, we should start seeing a decline in illegal robocalls. But the scams certainly won't halt overnight. Here are some tips to live by.

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Pages

Blog Post

“Best-By” vs. "Sell-By" vs. "Use-By"? What's the difference, and how do you know when food is no longer safe to eat? Whether you're stocking up or are left with the items in the back of your cupboard, it's important to know how long food products will stay fresh and when they expire.

News Release | US PIRG Education Fund

The labels “Best By,” “Sell By” and “Use By” have different meanings, but people who assume they’re all expiration dates commonly throw out food and drink that’s still good to consume.

Blog Post

Shareholders press these leading Right to Repair opponents to explain themselves as regulatory pressure mounts 

Blog Post

Celebrating my favorite government mascot’s 50th birthday by sharing the zero-waste tips I have made a part of my life.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

After making landfall in Louisiana on Sunday, Hurricane Ida tore a path of destruction from the Gulf Coast all the way to New York and New Jersey. With billions of dollars in damage from flooding, wind and tornadoes, far too many people must make insurance claims, repairs and begin rebuilding.

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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