10 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Visit to Salem, Massachusetts

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by Oscar Collins

With its rich variety of restaurants, shops and museums, Salem is a beautiful city you won’t forget soon. But while you’re here, it’s important to be mindful of your carbon footprint and take steps to mitigate your environmental impact.

There are plenty of things you can do to help preserve Salem’s charming landscape for future visitors. Here are some eco-friendly ways to plan your trip:

1. Bring Reusable Bags

Skip the plastic bags when visiting the historic Salem Farmers Market downtown, or shopping along Pickering Wharf, Essex Street, or Front Street, as they can take up to 20 years to decompose. During that time, they can wash into the ocean and impact marine life.

To help protect sea animals, carry your local produce home in a reusable bag. Need to buy a reusable bag while you’re downtown? You can find reusable totes at Trolley Depot, Moody’s Home & Gifts, and Wicked Good Books just to name a few.

2. Pack Lightly

Only pack what you need. With so much to see, from historical sites to parks, consider leaving your electronics at home, with the exception of your cell phone as it may come in handy for QR code menus, self-guided tours, and last-minute ticket purchases. Also, since you may be doing a lot of walking during your visit, bring some lightweight clothing to reduce your carbon footprint.

Packing lightly will lower the overall weight of your luggage. Keep in mind the more weight your bags hold, the heavier the plane will be. This causes an increase in carbon emissions, leading to more air pollution. In fact, airplanes account for 2.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

3. Take Public Transportation

Using public transportation can reduce your carbon footprint. Fewer cars mean less greenhouse gas emissions. It is not just environmentally friendly, but also cost-effective, and can save you time looking for parking downtown.

You can reach Salem via public transportation by taking the MBTA Commuter Rail on the Newburyport/Rockport line or the Salem Ferry (which runs seasonally between Long Wharf in Boston and Blaney Street in Salem). Once you’re in Salem, you’ll find most of what you might want to see and do is accessible on foot, but if you do need a lift, the Salem Skipper offers rides anywhere in the city for just $2, and Bluebikes are available to ride around town.

If you are visiting locations throughout the North of Boston region, you may need to rent a vehicle to drive between sites. You’ll have a variety of options to choose from, but consider an electric vehicle like the Mustang Mach-E. They have fast-charging capabilities and up to up to a 300-mile driving range.

 4. Stay Downtown

To reduce carbon emissions from a long flight, consider staying within the area. It will also allow you to see more of Salem and spend time experiencing a variety of museums and attractions. There are many local tourist attractions to explore in Salem, such as the Peabody Essex Museum and Punto Urban Art Museum for art lovers, the Salem Witch Museum and Witch Dungeon Museum for history buffs, and The House of the Seven Gables for those looking to immerse themselves in classic literature.

Salem has a variety of places to stay from historic inns and B&Bs to modern hotels complete with pools and restaurants. Consider staying by the water at Morning Glory B&B or close to the Common at the historic Hawthorne Hotel.

5. Enjoy Local Restaurants

Consider local dining options when deciding where to eat, such as Adriatic Restaurant for a Mediterranean dinner, or Rockafellas for something casual with inventive cocktails. This can limit the amount of gas you use and lower your carbon footprint. Cars account for a significant portion of total carbon emissions releasing an average of 8,887 grams of carbon dioxide per gallon of gasoline. And besides, with so many great restaurants right here in Salem, you’re sure to find something for every taste and budget.

6. Treat Your Hotel Like Your Home

You may do things to reduce your energy waste at home, such as turning off lights when leaving a room. Keep up these habits when staying at a hotel wherever you travel.

Here are some more tips for going green during your hotel visit:

  • Reuse towels and bedsheets
  • Tidy the room up yourself
  • Bring your toiletries
  • Recycle
  • Take shorter showers

7. Choose Eco-Friendly Adventures

When traveling, consider doing activities that involve less gas mileage. Salem provides lots of environmentally friendly activities, from guided historical tours to scenic trails, all within walking distance.

You may want to check out Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours or a 1692 Salem Witchcraft Walk with Salem Historical Tours to learn about the infamous Salem Witch Trials and visit local historic sites. If you’re looking for hiking opportunities, try walking along the Salem Woods Loop trail.

8. Use Reusable Water Bottles

Many guided tours can take a few hours, so you want to stay hydrated. Remember to take reusable water bottles on your excursions. This can help limit the number of plastic bottles you use. About 91% of plastic isn’t recycled and ends up crowding landfills, leading to ocean pollution. You can also use them in your hotel room to avoid going through plastic cups during your stay.

9. Stay on the Path When Hiking

Salem offers a couple of hiking opportunities just outside of downtown, such as Salem Woods Trail. When you’re walking, make sure to stay on the marked path. This way, you preserve local plants and historical landmarks. You can also visit Salem Maritime National Historic Site to take the .5 mile walk out to Derby Light.

10. Respect Local History

Not all history is preserved behind glass inside museums. While visiting Salem’s historic cemeteries, remember to stay on the paths and note that grave rubbings, and leaning or sitting on stones and tombs are prohibited. Some of Salem’s historic sites, like The House of the Seven Gables or the Witch House, date back to the 17th century- Be sure to stay mindful of what you are touching while on your tours.

Eco-Friendly Tips for Visiting Salem, Massachusetts

Salem is the perfect place to visit when searching for historical sites and beautiful views. It’s vital to protect the environment to preserve the rich culture, so consider these eco-friendly traveling tips when planning your next vacation.

Oscar Collins is the editor-in-chief at Modded, where he writes about green living, travel and similar topics. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for regular updates.

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