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.

CALPIRG 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

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Tyson chicken strips recalled, may contain pieces of metal

Just seven weeks after Tyson Foods recalled chicken nuggets that could contain rubber, the poultry giant is recalling chicken strips that might contain metal. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Boeing Max planes have ‘optional’ safety mechanisms

Newly-revealed details by the New York Times about of the crash of two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes may stun even the most hardened observer. The planes lacked a safety feature that may have warned pilots about problems because it was not required and Boeing charged airlines extra to include it. Adam Garber, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog issued the following statement.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Get The Lead Out

Our children need safe drinking water – especially at school where they go to learn and play each day.  Unfortunately, lead is contaminating drinking water at schools and pre-schools across the country. As our report shows, states are failing to make the grade when it comes to keeping lead out of drinking water at school.  Instead of waiting for more testing, we need to proactively remove the lead pipes and plumbing at the root of this toxic hazard for our children.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

California gets a C+ for efforts to address lead in school drinking water

Los Angeles – Reacting to pervasive lead contamination in schools’ drinking water, CALPIRG gave California a C+ grade today for addressing the problem, according to a new national report. In the second edition of CALPIRG Education Fund’s Get The Lead Out study, the state showed some progress since its F grade on a similar report card in 2017. The American Academy of Pediatrics, California State PTA, and Compton Unified School district all joined CALPIRG in calling for swift action to ensure lead-free water in California’s schools and daycares.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

CALPIRG Co-Sponsors Bill That Would Ban Many Dangerous Cosmetics

Landmark legislation introduced today would impose a statewide ban on cosmetics that include any of 20 highly toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm or hormone disruption. Assembly Bill 495, authored by Assembly members Al Muratsuchi (Torrance) and Buffy Wicks (Oakland), halts the sale of cosmetics products containing toxic chemicals like mercury, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, triclosan and the fluorinated compounds known as PFAS in California. The legislation is sponsored by CALPIRG and Environmental Working Group.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

California gets a C+ for efforts to address lead in school drinking water

Los Angeles – Reacting to pervasive lead contamination in schools’ drinking water, CALPIRG gave California a C+ grade today for addressing the problem, according to a new national report. In the second edition of CALPIRG Education Fund’s Get The Lead Out study, the state showed some progress since its F grade on a similar report card in 2017. The American Academy of Pediatrics, California State PTA, and Compton Unified School district all joined CALPIRG in calling for swift action to ensure lead-free water in California’s schools and daycares.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

CALPIRG Co-Sponsors Bill That Would Ban Many Dangerous Cosmetics

Landmark legislation introduced today would impose a statewide ban on cosmetics that include any of 20 highly toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm or hormone disruption. Assembly Bill 495, authored by Assembly members Al Muratsuchi (Torrance) and Buffy Wicks (Oakland), halts the sale of cosmetics products containing toxic chemicals like mercury, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, triclosan and the fluorinated compounds known as PFAS in California. The legislation is sponsored by CALPIRG and Environmental Working Group.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Popular weed killer from Roundup found in top beer and wine brands

Many brands of beer and wine sold in the U.S. contain the weed killer glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, according to a new report by CALPIRG Education Fund. In Glyphosate Pesticide in Beer and Wine, CALPIRG tested 20 beers, wines and hard cider, including several organic brands, for glyphosate/Roundup and found that all but one contained the harmful chemical.

This revelation comes on the same day a San Francisco court begins hearing arguments in the first federal civil case over whether Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Transportation

Questionable lending drives Americans to record auto debt

The amount of money Americans owe on their cars is now at an all-time high -- up 75 percent since the end of 2009. Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns about the financial future of millions of households as lenders extend credit to more and more Americans without the ability to repay, according to a new U.S. PIRG report.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New report: Hazardous Meat & Poultry Recalls Nearly Double

Oakland: From E. coli-infected romaine lettuce to Salmonella-tainted beef, contaminated foods lead to illnesses that sicken as many as 1 in 6 Americans annually. In 2018, this epidemic helped spur major recalls, which caused stores and restaurants to toss millions of pounds of meat and produce.  CALPIRG Education Fund’s new report How Safe is Our Food?, released today, reveals how fundamental flaws in our current food safety system have led to a jump in these recalls since 2013.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland

Among the toys surveyed this year, we found potential choking hazards, and two products with concentrations of lead exceeding federal standards for children’s products. We also found data-collecting toys that may violate children’s privacy laws. This report not only lists the potentially dangerous toys that we found this year, but also describes why and how the toys could harm children.

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

Lead In Fidget Spinners

While lead in toys has become less prevalent in recent years, U.S. PIRG Education Fund tested several models of one of today’s hottest toys, fidget spinners, for the toxic heavy metal. Laboratory results indicated that two fidget spinners purchased at Target and distributed by Bulls i Toy, L.L.C. contained extremely high levels of lead. U.S. PIRG Education Fund calls on Target and Bulls i Toy to immediately recall these two fidget spinners and investigate how such high levels of lead were found in these toys. Also, we call on the U.S.

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

Chain Reaction III

The third annual Chain Reaction report, which grades companies on their antibiotics policies and practices, found that 14 out of the top 25 restaurants in the U.S. have taken steps to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in the production of the chicken they serve, up from nine just one year ago. While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups who authored the report found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Protecting Those Who Serve

The men and women who serve in America’s military are also active consumers in America’s financial marketplace, where tricks and traps can cause harm to their finances and their lives. An analysis of more than 44,000 complaints submitted by active duty servicemembers and military veterans to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and contained in its Consumer Complaint Database finds that mistreatment of servicemembers by financial companies is widespread.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Governing in the Shadows

A review of 79 special districts’ online financial transparency shows that while a few districts are meeting the goals of “Transparency 2.0” – a standard of comprehensive, one-stop, oneclick budget accountability and accessibility – the vast majority do little to inform citizens about how they spend money.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

If It Looks Like a Chicken and Walks Like a Chicken | Steve Blackledge

Earlier this week, Tyson Foods announced another big step toward stopping the overuse of antibiotics on industrial farms. The announcement underscores a larger trend that’s been happening for a few years now; consumer pressure is helping to drive important public health changes in the marketplace. To be sure, there are laggards on the antibiotics front (see our recent blog on KFC), but perhaps no company has lagged as aggressively and proudly as Sanderson Farms. 

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Blog Post | Public Health

Calling for Big Action on Antibiotics in the Big Apple | Steve Blackledge

Last week, we were in New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly spent an entire day discussing antibiotic resistance, “the biggest threat to modern medicine.” Experts estimate that more than 700,000 people worldwide die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, including 23,000 in the United States—a number that could grow to 10 million globally by 2050.

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Blog Post | Democracy

California Colleges Commit to Supporting Voter Engagement | Emily Rusch

Earlier this week the Secretary of State announced a groundbreaking new partnership with Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and all three public systems of higher education to encourage eligible students to register and vote. CALPIRG Education Fund's New Voters Project is proud to have played a supporting role in the project.

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Blog Post | Antibiotics

Delivered Right to KFC's Doorstep | Jason Pfeifle

Over the past few days our staff and volunteers went to KFC restaurants in San Diego, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and the San Francisco Bay Area and delivered a petition with over 9,000 signatures from concerned Californians, calling on the Colonel of fried chicken to stop serving meat raised with antibiotic overuse. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Consumers Count: Five years of the CFPB standing up for consumers | Kathryn Lee

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turns five years old! As part of our efforts to tell more people about the CFPB, we're cross-posting this video blog and comments written by Zixta Q. Martinez of the CFPB (check out the infographic at the end, too!).

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News Release | CALPIRG

Oakland – With school kids “back to school”, and the legislature wrapping up their 2019 session, CALPIRG today released a new free toolkit to help parents, teachers and administrators Get the Lead Out of school drinking water.  With a lack of complete information on lead contamination in schools throughout the state, CALPIRG Education Fund provide this tool to grapple with this serious health threat facing our children.

Blog Post

With more and more suits against Monsanto lining up, communities are pushing back against the use of Roundup and associated glyphosate-based herbicides. One by one, cities are passing restrictions on Roundup, and finding alternative, healthier ways to maintain operations. 

We spoke to city officials to find out how restrictions on Roundup are implemented in their community. Although the change can come with challenges, these cities show that every community has the capacity to reduce its usage of dangerous pesticides in some shape or form. 

News Release | U.S. PIRG

Everyone should assume that their social security number has been exposed between this breach and breaches of other major companies’ databases, such as Equifax’s. With that in mind, U.S. PIRG recommends all Americans should use their right by law to freeze their credit reports for free

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Our response to Equifax paying a $650 million penalty for exposing the social security numbers of 148 million Americans to identity theft.

News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund

Today, July 1, 2019, is the deadline for schools to test their drinking water for lead under a 2017 law authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez. Unfortunately, more than 1,600 school drinking water fountains tested positive for lead. Additionally, based on the most recent data available, some schools likely missed the deadline for getting their water tested. 

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