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

Victims of Texas storm: Here are tips to keep yourself, your pets, your home and your finances safe | Teresa Murray

Here are some tips to help consumers protect themselves during and after a disaster, including how to spot possible opportunists, bad deals and con-artists.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Brooke Roberts-Islam: a challenge to reducing fashion waste comes from ordering and producing ‘high volumes’ of clothing | Olivia Sullivan

We hear from the fashion industry expert and journalist on tech solutions to clothing overstock problems and how policy can drive industry change.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

National Consumer Protection Week 2021 | Teresa Murray

Being a consumer is tough. We want to help make it a little easier. In recognition of Consumer Protection Week from Feb. 28-March 6, U.S. PIRG is providing key consumer protection advice. Check in here every day for our updated tips and tools. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health

After 20 people die and dozens become ill, FDA finally flags hand sanitizer from Mexico | Teresa Murray

Consumers still at risk for harmful over-the-counter drug products of all types because of soft federal regulations.

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Blog Post

How to explore consumer problems in the financial marketplace using the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database | Gideon Weissman

The CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database is a powerful tool for understanding the problems consumers face in the financial marketplace. The more people that use it — and the more people that publicize the tool’s utility and write to the CFPB with suggestions — the better off we will all be.

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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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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Food

Peaches recalled after 68 people in 9 states contract Salmonella

The U.S. FDA said it’s investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections that it believes stem from peaches. In response, two large grocery chains, ALDI and Target, are removing those peaches from stores.

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

Trouble in the Air

People across America regularly breathe polluted air that increases their risk of premature death, and can also trigger asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts. In 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. That is equal to more than three months of the year in which ground-level ozone (the main ingredient in smog) and/or particulate pollution was above the level that the EPA has determined presents “little to no risk.” These Americans live in 89 large and small urban areas,* and in 12 rural counties.

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Report | Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Electric Buildings

To prevent air and water pollution and the worst impacts of global warming, America must move toward meeting its energy needs with 100 percent renewable energy. Getting there will require that we get the most out of every bit of energy we use – and that we end the burning of fossil fuels in our homes and commercial buildings.

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

Following the Money 2019

Our 10th report on government spending transparency rates all 50 states on the degree to which they make information about corporate tax breaks and other subsidies available online.

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

The State of Recycling National Survey

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.

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

Chain Reaction V

The Chain Reaction V report grades the top fast food and fast casual chanins on antibiotic use policies for their beef supply chains. 

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Progress or more of the same from top corporate plastic polluters? | Haley Clinton

For the third year in a row, the list of the largest plastic polluters in the world remains pretty much the same. According to the 2020 Brand Audit Report by Break Free From Plastic, the corporations responsible for polluting the greatest amount of plastic waste are, in order: The Coca-Cola Company; PepsiCo; Nestlé; Unilever; Mondelez International; Mars, Inc.; Procter & Gamble; Philip Morris International; Colgate-Palmolive; and Perfetti Van Melle.

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Blog Post

No Surprises Act addresses the downsides of arbitration | Patricia Kelmar

The No Surprises Act, passed in December 2020, is one of the most comprehensive consumer health protections the previous Congress passed. It builds on what we've learned from state surprise billing protections and establishes guardrails to minimize inflationary effects of arbitration. 

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Toxic chemicals in single-use plastics are harming human healthDanielle MelgarHaley Clinton

Plastic is a problem not just for our environment, but also for our health. Chemicals used to make plastics anti-microbial, flame retardant, and more, can be toxic.

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Blog Post

Right to Repair off to the races in 2021 with 14 active states | Nathan Proctor

2021 is shaping up to be a big year for our efforts to secure your right to fix your stuff.

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Blog Post

PFAS Free & I’m Lovin’ It | Danielle Melgar

McDonald’s just committed to phasing out PFAS-treated food packaging from its restaurants globally by 2025. Other restaurants, like Burger King and Wendy’s, should follow its lead.

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News Release | US PIRG

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Friday it will adopt a plan aimed at reducing toxic substances in food for babies and toddlers.

Blog Post

If you live in any of the following states, use these tips to fight unfair medical bills: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Blog Post

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

Blog Post

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.

Blog Post

You have two primary options for freezing your credit files with the three major credit bureaus. You can do it by phone or online, whichever you’re more comfortable with.

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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