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

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

Kiss Off: A Consumer's Guide To Saying No To Toxic Lip Products

Lip products are used by most Americans every day. In fact, 81 percent of women and 39 percent of men use lipstick or lip balm products. Unfortunately, the ingredients in these products are barely regulated, and many major brands use toxic chemicals in these products.

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

Trash in America: Moving from Destructive Consumption to a Zero-Waste System

A new report released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, Frontier Group, and Toxics Action Center, Trash in America:  Moving from Destructive Consumption to a Zero-Waste System, details the effects of overconsumption in America, including water contamination, air pollution, habitat destruction, and global warming. The report also examines how good policies can minimize the proliferation of waste and incentivize reduction, repairs, reuse, recycling, and composting.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Solid Waste

Trash in America

The United States produces an immense amount of waste. Natural resources are continually extracted to produce goods that are used in the U.S. – often only briefly – before they are thrown into landfills, incinerators or the natural environment. This system of consumption and disposal results in the waste of precious resources and pollution that threatens our health, environment and global climate.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG/U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Food

Bee-Killing Pesticides Found in Great Lakes Water

A recent scientific study found the presence of commonly-used pesticides known to harm bees ("neonicotinoids" or "neonics") in several Great Lakes waterways. This study shows we know very little about the effects of pesticides once released into the environment.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Food

New Report: Reaping What We Sow: How the Practices of Industrial Agriculture Put Our Health and Environment at Risk

 

U.S. agriculture is at a crossroads. While the nation’s agricultural system now produces more food than we can consume or than is good for us, we are squandering our resources, technology and taxpayer-funded investments on farming systems and practices that prioritize higher yields and profitability without regard to the impacts on the environment and public health, or to long-term agricultural productivity.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

New report shows victims of aggressive tactics from medical debt collectors

A new U.S. PIRG Education Fund Report documents consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about medical debt. Most complaints are about debt never owed, already paid, or not verified as the consumer's debt. The report demonstrates the ongong need to defend CFPB from speical-interest attacks.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

New Bill Closes Biggest Corporate Tax Loopholes, Offers Commonsense Tax Reform Solutions

Statement from U.S. PIRG Tax and Budget Advocate Michelle Surka on Rep. Pocan’s New Bill to Close Corporate Tax Loopholes:

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

New Bills Introduced To Curb Offshore Tax Avoidance, End Tax Gimmicks

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced the Corporate EXIT Fairness Act and the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act along with co-sponsor Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). These bills would close a number of loopholes that let corporations and wealthy individuals book income to offshore tax havens to avoid taxes. The Joint Committee on Taxation calculates that this legislation would save taxpayers over $250 billion.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

Hoverboard Tragedy Results in Three Deaths

Statement from U.S. PIRG Toxics Advocate Dev Gowda on recent hoverboard-related deaths

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Tax

U.S. PIRG Applauds Bipartisan Bill Barring Tax Write-offs for Corporate Wrongdoing

Washington, D.C. – Statement by Michelle Surka U.S. Public Interest Research Group Tax and Budget Program Advocate, on legislation introduced today by U.S. Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would prevent corporate wrongdoers from reaping massive tax windfalls from the payments made to settle allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Getting on Track

Pennsylvania’s transportation system is doing an increasingly poor job of moving people and goods efficiently and inexpensively around the Keystone State, while contributing to oil dependence and environmental harm.

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

Cutting Interest Rates, Lowering Student Debt

In 21st century America, a college education is critical for individual success and the strength of our nation. Higher education is associated with better health, greater wealth and more vibrant civic participation, as well national economic competitiveness in today’s global environment. As the need for a college degree has grown, however, so has the cost of obtaining that education. The result is increased reliance on loans to pay for college.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Squandering the Stimulus

Nothing illustrates how the lack of transportation options hurts consumers and our economy more than the fact that, since approval of the tax rebates in February, Americans on average have already spent the amount of their stimulus checks at the pump.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A Better Way to Go

This report shows why rail, rapid buses and other forms of public transit must play a more prominent role in America's future transportation system. America has grown more dependent on car travel with each passing year.

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

Mixed Signals

In an effort to determine America’s preparedness for the transition, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund conducted a “secret shopper” survey at 132 locations of five leading national electronics retailers in ten states. The survey found that retail electronic store staff are largely uninformed and are not adequately preparing consumers for the impending transition to digital television.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

“This EPA framework falls short on so many levels. More than anything, it’s a disappointment because the agency sidesteps specific commitments to encourage reduction, reuse or redesign."

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

You toss your plastic water bottle in a recycling bin after coming home from a trip to the beach, hoping the plastic from that bottle will be in next year’s plastic bottle, right? It most likely will not. Currently, plastic can only be re-manufactured a limited number of times, at best into a lower quality product because it degrades each time it is recycled. The value of recycled plastic may be low enough that your bottle is instead burned in an incinerator or dumped into a landfill.

A few years ago, that plastic might have been sold to China or another foreign nation. However, over the last few years, countries across the Pacific are putting restrictions on importing U.S. waste. Without these export markets, the U.S. recycling industry is in serious trouble, as exemplified by your plastic bottle’s likely journey to a landfill or incinerator. Of course, using a reusable water bottle would have avoided this issue, and for that reason, reduction and reuse strategies are preferable to recycling, even when recycling works.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Recycling challenges vary across the country, but, overall, states are failing to both reduce unnecessary waste and adjust to a changing recycling landscape, according to a new study from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its new Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report, which estimates at least 35,000 Americans die annually from infections that antibiotics can no longer effectively treat.

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