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

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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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

Statement: Battle against robocalls enters new era June 30

 Starting Wednesday, Americans can expect to receive fewer annoying, illegal robocalls. That’s the deadline the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed on most phone providers nationwide to install Caller ID verification to confirm whether calls on their network are actually coming from the number on display.

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News Release | US PIRG | Consumer Protection

Statement: Safe Sleep Act passes House, awaits vote in Senate

In an effort to protect infants from unsafe consumer products, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Solid Waste

Statement: Target’s new plastic packaging goal is a step in the right direction

The Fortune 50 retailer Target announced a new goal Tuesday to reduce its use of virgin plastic 20 percent by 2025 across its own brand frequency products. It is part of a new sustainability strategy called Target Forward and covers such key categories as household cleaning, personal care and beauty.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

New survey: 43 major appliance companies void warranties for independent repair, despite consumer protection laws

A new survey from U.S. PIRG Education Fund finds all 43 appliance manufacturers we surveyed would consider voiding the warranty if a device had “unauthorized” repair, despite a 2018 warning from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

New report: Electrifying America’s buildings by 2050 could be like taking 65 million cars off the road

New report documents the benefits of electrifying the majority of buildings in America to consumers and the environment. 

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Statement: Consumers need to go on defense after Facebook data breach

This serves as another important reminder that consumers must always be vigilant about identity thieves who may call, text or email victims and try to trick them into providing more information.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

New study: Nearly 70% of companies surveyed over 5 years have improved toxic chemical safety programs

The fifth annual Mind the Store campaign retailer report card examines major retailers’ chemical safety policies. It has helped win improvements to company commitments from 70 percent of retailers surveyed.

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News Release | USPIRG

New report proposes roadmap for how to transform America’s transportation infrastructure

America’s current transportation system has been designed, built and centered around the automobile, and it is a public health disaster. U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group’s latest report, Transform Transportation, identifies the numerous harmful health impacts caused by America’s car-centric transportation system and provides a three-step roadmap toward a healthier, more sustainable approach to transportation infrastructure.

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Pages

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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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 5

Highway Boondoggles 5 finds nine new budget-eating highway projects slated to cost a total of $25 billion that will harm communities and the environment, while likely failing to achieve meaningful transportation goals.

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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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Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Tips

An underappreciated way to fight the opioid crisis AND keep our waterways clean | Patricia Kelmar

 

Saturday, April 24, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

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Blog Post

Plastic waste solutions hiding in plain sight: Recycled content requirements | Haley Clinton

This blog is the second in a series examining policy solutions to the plastic pollution crisis that are proven and replicable. This section covers recycled content requirements.

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Blog Post

Another face of toxic-free beauty advocacy | Gina Werdel

We spoke to Je’May Ward, a clean beauty blogger from North Carolina, about what clean beauty advocacy means for her.

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Video Blog

A discussion of "Superfund Underfunded: How taxpayers have been left with a toxic financial burden"

U.S. PIRG, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, and the Center for Health, Environment & Justice hosted a webinar discussion of U.S. PIRG Education Fund's new report, "Superfund Underfunded: How taxpayers have been left with a toxic financial burden," and how we can address the problem of toxic waste in our communities. 

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Blog Post

Hacking through thickets of drug patents to get to affordable medicine | Patricia Kelmar

Here are the tactics that drug companies use to keep lower-priced drug competitors out of the market

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Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

A year after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned parents not to use nursing pillows and loungers for infant sleep, the CPSC and The Boppy Co. announced a recall Thursday of 3.3 million newborn loungers.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

A looming deadline should finally force all U.S. phone companies to take stopping robocalls seriously. However, only one-third of the largest mobile and home phone providers nationwide -- and a more disappointing percentage of smaller telecommunications companies -- have installed caller ID verification aimed at squashing illegal robocalls.

Blog Post

Scam robocalls have declined by 29 percent since June. But most of us still get too many. And the industry overall isn't doing enough.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Research by PIRG Education Fund shows that among 49 of the largest phone companies nationwide (those that can serve 1 million or more), only 16 have reported to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they have completely implemented anti-robocall technology. What does this mean? It means the industry isn’t doing nearly as much as hoped to fight the crime that for years has caused so much heartache and aggravation among consumers nationwide.

Blog Post

The good news: Illegal robocalls seem to be declining a bit. The bad news: They'll probably never go away completely. Consumers need to remain vigilant to protect their personal information and their money. 

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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