Maybe you already buy local, organic food and carpool to work. But if you're wondering what else you can do to fight global warming, consider shrinking your carbon footprint. The United States ranks first among environment-polluting countries, with the burning of fossil fuels for energy comprising the majority of the problem. Going truly carbon neutral — zeroing out your carbon emissions with carbon reductions — may or may not be an attainable goal, but lowering your impact is certainly a step in the right direction. These tips will show you how.

DID YOU KNOW?

Vegetarians usually have lower carbon footprints than meat eaters.

WHY? After carbon dioxide, methane — produced largely by cows — is the second most harmful greenhouse gas. Plus, it takes huge amounts of fossil fuels to raise livestock.

Your icebox makes a big difference.

WHY? A new, energy-efficient refrigerator can cut your home's carbon dioxide output by 1 ton a year and trim your annual electric bill by approximately $65.

How you drive really counts.

WHY? The average American car emits about 35 pounds of carbon dioxide every day. By maintaining your car, pumping up your tires, and using cruise control, you can improve your car's gas mileage, cut back on carbon emissions, and save hundreds of dollars in gasoline per year.

3 easy steps to lessen your carbon impact

  1. Calculate

    Your carbon footprint equals the total amount of carbon dioxide generated by your personal activities and household. Find out which day-to-day behaviors produce the most carbon dioxide with an online calculator. Try this one from the Climate Trust: Go to carboncounter.org, and click on individual.

  2. Reduce

    Rather than deconstructing every aspect of your life, focus on making informed choices and reductions in the major carbon-emitting areas: energy use, transportation, and household appliances.

  3. Offset

    Carbon offsetting doesn't reduce your carbon footprint, per se, but it does help move renewable-energy ventures forward. By purchasing credit in projects such as energy conservation, methane capture, wind power, and reforestation, you counterbalance your personal carbon emissions. Offsetting operates on the assumption that the money invested now will actually enable a project to materialize and succeed. For more information about carbon offsetting, go to cleanair-coolplanet.org and click on the link for the consumers' guide to retail carbon offset providers.

LEARN MORE ≫ Because travel — particularly by airplane — exacts huge environmental tolls, start planning how to offset spring trips now. Just go to deliciouslivingmag.com and enter ecosavvy traveler into the search box.