Here’s a sampling of some of our recent victories. You can read more about our long history of accomplishments here.
Getting to 100% Renewable Energy: We have had a number of victories on our campaign to transition to 100% renewable energy. In California, we blocked utility efforts to gut the state’s strong solar energy incentives, successfully pushed the University of California system to commit to 100% renewable electricity by 2035, and helped pass a state commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2045. In Oregon, we helped pass the Coal to Clean bill which will double Oregon’s clean energy usage and get the entire state off all coal by 2030. And in Massachusetts, got UMass Amherst to commit to being 100% renewable powered by 2032 and successfully lobbied our State Representatives to raise the cap on solar which will provide enough new clean energy to power over 100,000 homes in across the state.
Banning Single-Use Plastic: Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute the planet for 500 years. That’s why we’re calling on our community and state leaders to ban unnecessary single-use plastics, and working to create sustainable zero waste models that can be scaled economy-wide. In California, we helped pass a statewide ban on plastic grocery bags after passing city bans across the state, and then later defended the law at the ballot box. Since then, we’ve pushed campuses to sign the Break Free From Plastic pledge to phase out single-use plastics and have successfully passed pledges to phase at the University of California system, Eckerd College, Durham and Technical Community College. And in 2022, we helped pass a landmark plastic pollution reduction bill in California that holds producers responsible for their plastic waste.
Stopping the Overuse of Antibiotics: Our campaign to protect antibiotics has had unprecedented recent success. Thanks to our work and the work of our coalition partners, we helped convinced McDonald’s, Subway, and KFC to stop serving meat raised on routine antibiotics. Because the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is creating antibiotic-resistant superbugs, this is an incredible step forward for public health. We collected thousands of photo-petitions that we posted to social media, made hundreds of phone calls to corporate headquarters, and got dozens of media hits to convince some of the biggest fast food chains in the country to take action to save our antibiotic medicines.
New Voters Project: It’s time to make politicians pay attention to us. The best way to get them to pay attention to young people and the issues we care about is to show up to the polls, so each election cycle, we run a nationwide voter registration and get out the vote effort. The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project is one of the largest on-the-ground, non-partisan, youth voter mobilization campaigns in the country. Over the past 30 years, we have helped to register more than 2 million young people, made millions of get-out-the-vote reminders, and have increased youth voter participation in districts across the country. In Fall of 2020, our campaign reached more than 200 campuses in 49 states, helping over 20,000 students register to vote remotely, and making more nearly 400,000 peer-to-peer voter contacts in the days leading up to the election. Our work paid off: Preliminary results from the 2020 general election show historic voter turnout, including a predicted 5 to 10 point increase amongst 18-29 year olds from 2016.
Making Textbooks More Affordable: Everyone knows that textbooks costs are out of control—than average student spends $900 per year! We’re promoting cost-saving solutions on campus while also tackling publishers’ stranglehold on the market to change prices for good. We’re educating students, faculty and bookstores and raising awareness through research and media attention. We’ve built a network of over 3,000 faculty members who support the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) low cost options, and we have helped start pilot programs to incentivize open textbooks at schools like UMass Amherst, UConn Storrs, and Rutgers New Brunswick, which have already saved students millions of dollars. Our work to build nationwide support for Open Textbooks culminated in the 2018 and 2019 federal budgets, with Congress approving a $5 million program each year to support Open Textbooks.
Democracy for the People: In Seattle, WashPIRG Students helped gather signatures to qualify the Honest Elections Initiative for the ballot, then helped canvass and phonebank to pass the initiative in November. In Connecticut, ConnPIRG students helped stop a proposal to gut the state’s public financing program. And recently, more than 100 PIRG chapter students joined thousands of other activists in Washington, D.C. for Democracy Awakening, a 3-day event including workshops, a rally, and a lobby day. In addition to organizing their own transportation and logistics to get to the nation’s capital, students played important roles throughout the weekend, helping emcee the rally and helping lead meetings with legislators and their staff.