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

Cancer prevention means no more toxic cosmetics | Gina Werdel

Cancer devastates millions of American families every year. While not all cancer cases are preventable, February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and it’s time we start a conversation about eliminating the many cancer-linked chemicals in our cosmetic and personal care products.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Public Health, Health Care

NURSING HOMES STILL DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MASKS, GOWNS, OTHER PPE

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.

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

New report: Toxic waste cleanup efforts lag, putting Americans at risk

One in six Americans lives within three miles of a toxic waste site so dangerous that it has been approved or proposed for cleanup under the federal government’s “Superfund” program. However, there’s not enough money to pay for that vital work, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data detailed in a new report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center.

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

U.S. PIRG Education Fund urges the public to hold Coca-Cola accountable on its pledge to reduce plastic use

The Coca-Cola Company, a top plastic polluter according to a 2020 Brand Audit from the nonprofit Break Free From Plastic, announced a new commitment today to start using plastic bottles made with 100 percent recycled plastic for select brands in some U.S. states. According to the company, it would account for a nearly 20 percent reduction of new plastic used in North America compared to 2018. The commitment follows similar ones made by other major consumer goods companies, recently documented by U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

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

New study indicates toxic chemicals used in take-out food packaging from popular chains

A new study that tested for PFAS in food containers from six restaurant chains found that, out of 29 unique samples, 14 tested above the screening level for fluorine, suggesting PFAS treatment.

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

Consumer complaints to CFPB set new record each month of COVID-19 pandemic

Each month since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic swept the United States in March, a record number of American consumers have filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to an analysis released Friday by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Proprietary medical device repair harms hospitals, could threaten patients, during COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the equipment that is essential to diagnose and treat patients, such as ventilators. As that equipment is pressed into round-the-clock use, biomedical repair technicians face increasing pressure to maintain and repair all that equipment. However, in too many cases, manufacturers limit access to the essential tools and information these repair experts need. A new report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Hospital Repair Restrictions, details the challenges that medical professionals face as a result of device manufacturers setting up barriers to repair, and outlines steps to take to help hospitals.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Fresh Express recalls bagged salad mixes after 200 reports of parasitic infection

A microscopic parasite found in Fresh Express bagged salads has made 200 people sick and has led to 23 hospitalizations.

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Pages

Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Solid Waste

What are Coloradans Fixing?

Something breaks, or doesn’t work right. You could throw it away, but you don’t want to be wasteful so you try to figure out how to get it fixed.

According to a review of data from iFixit, a self-described “repair guide for everything, written by everyone.” 1.2 million unique users from Colorado went onto their website www.ifixit.com to look up how to repair something in 2018.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Consumers for Auto Reliability And Safety (CARS) Foundation | Consumer Protection

Unsafe used cars for sale

AutoNation, which bills itself as “America’s Largest Auto Retailer,” is selling recalled used vehicles that contain dangerous safety defects. In a survey of over 2,400 used vehicles for sale at 28 AutoNation locations, 1 in 9 were found to have unrepaired safety recalls.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses in America

New report profiles six case studies of early electric bus adopters across the nation. By understanding common pitfalls and best practices, cities, agencies and school districts can ensure a smoother roll-out of electric buses, helping reduce climate pollution and protect public health.

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

Get the Lead Out Back to School Toolkit

This toolkit includes a factsheet, video, sample call-to-action materials and links to additional resources to help parents, teachers and administrators take all the necessary steps to get the lead out.

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Report | U.S.PIRG Education Fund and Kids In Danger | Consumer Protection

Recalled Infant Sleepers

Every day, millions of kids are dropped off at child care facilities across the country by parents and caretakers who are looking forward to seeing them safe and sound at the end of the day. But new research found some dangerous recalled products are still in use at child care facilities across the country.

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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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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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Blog Post | COVID-19

1 Year Later: Comparing Pre-Pandemic Prices to Today's on Amazon | Grace Brombach

Review of 750 products shows how prices on essentials fluctuated during COVID-19

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Pages

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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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.