Member support helped make the world a safer, healthier place

Advocacy, research and engaged supporters came together to win big for the public interest this year.

Leise Jones | TPIN
Lucas Rockett Gutterman, Designed to Last director with U.S. PIRG speaking in front of Google's offices.

We’re up against some big challenges. Plastic producers are deceiving the public about plastic waste, pesticide makers are using toxic chemicals that kill pollinators and harm children’s health, corporations are making products destined for the landfill because they’re impossible to repair, and more. 

But then there are the PIRG supporters who stand up, get involved and support our work — and together, we make a real difference.

Take a look at what we were able to accomplish over the last 12 months:

Peter Mui | Used by permission

Victory: 10 years of software support for Chromebooks

Chromebooks have become ubiquitous in classrooms, but school districts have quickly discovered a big problem: After only a few years of use, the laptops would “expire” and no longer receive updates or support.

Our research showed that doubling the life of Chromebooks sold in just 2020 could cut emissions equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road for a year, and could result in $1.8 billion dollars in savings for schools, assuming no additional maintenance costs.

We knew it was possible for Google to extend service for Chromebooks that were already in use, so PIRG took action. Last year, we joined forces with nonprofits, parents and teachers to call on Google to extend the lifespan of these devices, and collected more than 10,000 petitions to the company.

In September, Google announced it would extend the built-in expiration date for all Chromebook models to 10 years, meaning fewer electronics will go to waste.

Oceana | Used by permission

Victory: Amazon to phase out single-use plastic padded shipping bags

Amazon ships out millions of packages every day, many of which are wrapped in single-use plastic packaging. Much of this plastic packaging is marked with the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol — and PIRG and a group of volunteers wanted to investigate whether they were actually getting recycled. 

PIRG volunteers placed trackers in bundles of plastic packaging, dropped them in recycling bins, and tracked them to their final destinations. What did we find? Very few of the packages we tracked actually ended up at recycling centers — even though we followed Amazon’s directions for recycling them.

That tracks, given that we know most plastic is never recycled, but is rather landfilled, incinerated, or ends up littering our communities and environment.

Supporters sent more than 138,000 petition signatures to Amazon, urging the company to eliminate plastic in U.S. shipments. 

In July 2023, Amazon agreed to phase out padded plastic shipping bags, and this week it announced that it has removed plastic air pillows from virtually all North American deliveries — both important steps on the road to a plastic-free future.

coal-power-plant-smokestacks-546538735-Mr-James-Kelley-via-shutterstock
Mr. James Kelley | Shutterstock.com

Victory: New soot regulations will save lives

Together with our supporters, we successfully convinced the EPA to limit one of the most common and deadly forms of air pollution. New soot pollution regulations will save thousands of lives every year.

Factories and fossil fuel infrastructure pump soot into the air, putting our health and communities at risk. Soot particles are very tiny — small enough to enter the lungs and bloodstream when you breathe them in.

These tiny soot particles can wreak havoc on the body, triggering asthma attacks, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. And no level of exposure is without risk: Research shows that there may be no safe level of air pollution for our health.

Along with our national network, we submitted more than 40,000 comments to the EPA calling for these lifesaving pollution limits.

When concerned, engaged and thoughtful citizens take action for the public interest, we all win. With supporters like you at our side, our team of advocates, researchers and organizers can continue to make progress for a healthier, cleaner, safer world.

Topics