By: Nick Gambino

Most of us want to do our part to help mitigate damage to our planet. Some of us are lazier than others, but I think down deep we still want to do something. It helps when tech companies give us easy ways to lessen our impact on the environment in our everyday lives. Google has just made a few new updates to Google Maps that will allow us to do just that.

Starting now, iOS and Android users will see fuel-efficient routes when they plug in a destination. Most of us use GPS for time efficiency, but this allows us to consider fuel efficiency as well. This may be the fastest, slowest, or middle-of-the-road route, but it’ll always be the one with the least gas expenditure and thus fewer emissions

“Traveling by car is one of the most carbon-intensive choices people make on a daily basis,” Sundar Pichai, Google Chief Executive, said, “Starting [Wednesday] in the US, and in Europe in 2022, Google Maps will let you choose the route with the lowest carbon emissions if it isn’t already the fastest one.”

We shouldn’t dismiss the impact a simple feature like this might have. The company estimates that it has the potential of lessening carbon emissions by 1 million tons a year. That’s the equivalent of 200,000 fewer cars on the road. That of course assumes everyone using Google Maps also uses this feature or picks that route.

“The eco-friendly feature will always show you the fastest route – and now also the one that’s most fuel-efficient, if it doesn’t happen to the fastest,” the Senior Director of Transportation for Google Maps, Russell Dicker, told TechCrunch. “So with just a few taps, you can see the relative fuel savings between the different options, the ETA difference if there is one, and choose the one that works best for you.”

Google also launched a lite navigation mode in Maps, designed for cyclists looking for broader routing options. This is an effort to make the GPS app more appealing to those opting to bike to their destination, thus sticking with the eco-friendly theme. They’ve also expanded bike and scooter sharing stations in hundreds of more cities.

So if you’re not in a hurry and care about the planet, consider picking the fuel-efficient route next time you GPS.

Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels