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

Carbon Pricing 101

U.S. policymakers must use every practical policy tool to tackle climate change – promoting rapid deployment of renewable energy sources, investing in research and development of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency and taking regulatory actions to push polluters away from using dirty fossil fuels. A central element in this strategy should be putting a price on carbon pollution. This new report shows how carbon pricing can be used to push polluters to use energy more efficiently and shift from oil, coal and natural gas to clean, renewable energy.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Solid Waste

Students host hundreds of local actions for Youth Earth Week

BOSTON - The Student PIRGs, a student environmental organizing group, is partnering with local organizations, student governments and elected officials to host in-person and virtual actions to celebrate Youth Earth Week, a national effort of more than 250 actions around the country to protect the environment, from April 19 to 23.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Statement: New FDA plan to reduce toxic metal in baby food falls short

A month after announcing a weak plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new plan Thursday aimed at making baby food safer over the next several years.

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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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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 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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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 | US PIRG Education Fund

Statement: Toxic metals found in baby food

A report released Thursday by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee said four of the seven largest baby food manufacturers have sold baby food with “significant levels of toxic heavy metals” dating back to at least late 2019.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Report: Nursing homes cope with huge staff shortages

At any given time throughout most of 2020, more than 200,000 Americans resided in nursing homes that admit they were suffering through staff shortages.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

McDonald’s commits to eliminating toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in food packaging globally

McDonald’s announced a commitment to eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging used in its restaurants by 2025. PFAS are linked to kidney and liver problems, high cholesterol, reduced immune system function, and cancer.

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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 | Consumer Tips

How to Identify and Report Price Gouging during the Texas Freeze | Lauren Banister

As the winter freeze in Texas continues to unfold, many Texans are complaining about extremely high prices for shelter, safe drinking water and plumbers services to fix broken pipes. There is a lot to worry about with this crisis and absurd prices for basic necessities shouldn't be one of them. 

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Jessica Schreiber: ‘It’s just too easy and convenient to throw things away’ | Olivia Sullivan

We need to make it easier for clothing companies to reuse and recycle. Policy, data collection and nonprofits can help.

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Blog Post

Texas power outages and winter storms in the midst of a pandemic

State and national emergencies this year show the necessity of anti-price gouging efforts.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Should I be dripping my faucets? | Lauren Banister

We have been hearing for days about the need to drip faucets to keep our pipes from freezing. But now the message has changed. With slightly higher temperatures and a water supply crisis brewing across the state, the most important task at hand is to conserve as much water as possible. Hospitals and emergency services are relying on us. Here are the best tips we can find to help keep your pipes from freezing while conserving as much water as possible.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Why do I have a water boil notice? What does it mean? | Lauren Banister

Cities across Texas are posting water boil notices left and right as water pressure falls across the state. Here are some resources on how to make sure your water is safe, why our water is unsafe right now, and how we can pull together to get through.

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Blog Post

In light of some of these newer cons, here is actionable information to help you avoid the aggravation, time and financial losses that come with sophisticated scams.

News Release | PIRG Education Fund

Special interest groups across the country are working to stall the growth of rooftop solar, according to a new report released Thursday by PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center.

Report | PIRG Education Fund

Solar power is helping move the United States toward a future of 100% renewable energy, while reducing global warming pollution, cleaning up the air in our communities, and empowering homeowners and business owners to generate their own electricity. And increasingly, solar power can do all that at a lower cost than electricity produced from fossil fuels. Utilities increasingly fear that the falling prices and rising availability of clean solar power will threaten their business model, which ties profits to the amount of capital investment they make in the grid, and sometimes to the amount of electricity sold. Consequently, in states across the country, utilities are using their money and clout to push policymakers to undercut solar power.

News Release | PIRG Education Fund

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.

Blog Post

 

Some people ‘subscribe’ to ambulances, but the subscription may not be worth it

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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