The social and environmental benefits of virtual events

Ud Doron Headshot
Ud Doron
Updated February 5 2023
The social and environmental benefits of virtual events
Ud Doron Headshot
Ud Doron
Updated February 5 2023

Doing good is good for business. If nothing else, you’re actively promoting an important cause that you and your audience likely share. It doesn’t get any better than that from a branding perspective. If you’re making your events more accessible, for example, you’re letting more people into your event, which is what you want. If you broadcast your event live, you’re helping reduce carbon emissions due to travel.


Business aside, doing good is also what’s right for everyone and everything – our planet, human society, and people with disabilities.


We hope that was enough ‘why’ in case you weren’t already onboard. Let’s move on to the ‘how’. More specifically, how to make your events better. We’ll start with the environmental stuff, then talk about societal and ethical issues.




Eco-friendly events

Sometimes, there’s just no other way but to meet in person. But many other times, meeting virtually is just as good, if not better, and it helps save a lot of time traveling. That, in turn, helps lower our carbon footprint. Win-win!


If you’re not sold on the idea, thinking that yours is just one event and “that plane is going there anyway”, try multiplying that by the number of events taking place every year. Now you have a lot more than one event and lots of planes going places they wouldn’t have otherwise gone to. All that added up to roughly 5.31 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year just before the pandemic.


If, on the other hand, we start running all our events as hybrid or completely virtual when there’s no apparent need to meet in person, we can decrease our carbon footprint by 94%! For attendees, that means thinking long and hard before passing on the option of attending virtually.


And carbon emissions are only part of the problem. Large conferences with lots of people also tend to produce a lot of construction and food waste. By switching to and attending more and more events to virtual, we’ll also rid ourselves of a lot of unnecessary waste.



Speaking of waste, all that event swag we’re so eager to give out will one way or another find itself in the trash. Sorry to have to break it to you, but most people don’t need another mug or notebook.


Luckily, event swag is irrelevant for virtual events. But are we really asking you to not give your attendees anything? Not at all. Just that you try to find swag that is reusable and/or made of recycled materials. Better yet, offer a digital token of appreciation.


As for food waste, check in advance if there are any nearby shelters and charities you can donate it to.  And as for just food in general, if you go with local sustainable vendors, or even get it directly from the source such as a nearby farm, you’ll be cutting down on costs and show that you support local communities.



There are still more ways to make your in-person event more environmentally friendly. For example, pick a venue that’s central and easy to get to by public transport for your audience. Plus, make sure that it’s compliant with the most recent energy efficiency and water usage standards. And use screens and projectors instead of signage.  Every little thing you do goes a long way!



Diversity and inclusion

We’ve mentioned already the merit of accessibility for business.


You’ll be pleased to hear then, that all over the world, physical accessibility inside and outside of buildings is becoming the norm. If you’re running an in-person event, add that to the list of things to check before you sign the contract


If you really wish to guarantee that your event is suited for people with disabilities, you have to go virtual. There are no two ways about it.


Still, bear in mind that about 98% of virtual and hybrid event platforms in the market right now aren’t accessible for people who rely on assistive technology like audio support, screen readers, real-time sign language, and more. Some don’t even have the option to make basic adjustments to font size and coloring.


So, if you really wish to guarantee that your event is suited for people with disabilities, you have to go for the 2% of virtual platforms that offer assistive technology.



But going virtual doesn’t just open doors for people with disabilities, it opens the door to everyone. Eliminating the need to travel isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also great for people with very spare time to travel, such as parents, or no spare funds for it.


That means you’ll automatically make your event more diverse, with people coming from all over the world, and from different socioeconomic backgrounds. That means more points of view and more voices to be heard. That is a better, livelier event all around.