Earth Day 2023: Reduce Your Organization’s Environmental Footprint One Webinar at a Time

Earth Day 2023: Reduce Your Organization’s Environmental Footprint One Webinar at a Time

Earth Day's 2023 theme calls on businesses, governments and individuals to "invest in our planet." When you choose to produce a webinar instead of an in-person event, you are investing in our planet.

Over the past decade, webinars have arguably become the best way to reach and engage an audience. For the past 20 years at Xtalks, marketers from the life sciences, medical device and food industries have truly embraced our webinars as a tool of choice.

When Xtalks was founded, its original mission was to provide greater access to high-quality education and to reduce the environmental impact of doing so. Over the last 20 years, the impact of diverting so many physical events to virtual events has been enormous. That’s thousands of webinars multiplied by thousands of attendees over 20 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic sky-rocketed the industry’s use of webinars and contributed to a greater understanding of the benefits of virtual events over physical events — from increased financial and time savings to a dramatic reduction in the environmental footprint.

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. As we mark Earth Day 2023, let’s evaluate one of the most effective ways an organization can reduce its environmental footprint: by opting to hold webinars over in-person events.

What is the Theme of Earth Day 2023?

According to EARTHDAY.ORG (EDO), the global organizer of a wide range of Earth Day events, the theme of Earth Day 2023 is “Invest in Our Planet.” It is a call for businesses, governments and individuals to invest in a better future for our planet.

It is estimated that about one billion people in more than 193 countries participated in Earth Day 2023.

And by encouraging organizations and companies to hold virtual events, Xtalks is definitely meeting this year’s Earth Day theme.

Webinars are an Environmentally Friendly Solution

Statistics show that in 2018, US residents alone made 464.4 million trips for business purposes, and 38 percent of these were for meetings and events — that’s more than 176 million trips.

When you choose to produce a webinar, you’re saving the planet by:

  • Reducing travel: Webinars can be attended from anywhere with an internet connection, which means that participants do not need to travel long distances to attend presentations, tradeshows or conferences. This results in lower emissions from transportation, including flights, car travel and public transit.
  • Lowering energy consumption: Traditional tradeshows often require large venues with high energy consumption for lighting, heating and cooling. In contrast, webinars are conducted online, requiring only the energy to power the devices of the attendees and the webinar platform’s servers, resulting in lower overall energy usage.
  • Generating less waste: Tradeshows typically generate considerable waste in the form of printed materials, promotional items, food and beverage containers and booth setups. Webinars, being digital events, eliminate the need for most of these materials, thereby reducing waste and the associated carbon emissions from manufacturing and disposal.
  • Contributing to a smaller carbon footprint from event setup: Organizing a tradeshow involves transporting and setting up equipment, booths and other infrastructure, which all contribute to carbon emissions. Webinars eliminate these requirements as they are hosted online, so the carbon footprint from event setup is reduced.
  • Encouraging virtual collaboration: Webinars not only reduce carbon emissions directly but also promote a culture of virtual collaboration, which has broader environmental benefits. As more people become comfortable with virtual events and remote work, this may lead to a long-term reduction in travel, commuting and resource usage associated with in-person meetings and conferences.
  • Using resource-efficient marketing: Webinars provide a platform for businesses to showcase their products and services without the need for physical materials, such as banners, posters and brochures. This reduces the environmental impact of producing, transporting and disposing of these materials, ultimately leading to lower carbon emissions.
  • Reducing the need for accommodation: Attendees at tradeshows and conferences often require hotel accommodations, which contribute to carbon emissions through energy usage, water consumption and waste generation. Webinars eliminate the need for accommodation by allowing participants to join the event from their homes or offices.
  • Lowering the environmental impacts from catering: Catering at tradeshows typically involves large quantities of food and beverages, often leading to food waste and carbon emissions from food and beverage production, transportation and preparation. The average event wastes between 15 percent to 20 percent of the food it produces. Webinars do not require catering services, so they do not contribute to the environmental impacts of catering.

Take a minute to think about all the free items you have accumulated during a tradeshow, conference or convention. This list might include plastic or reusable bags, pamphlets, books, brochures, business cards, catalogs, samples and more. Now, think about how many times you’ve actually used these items… probably not that much!

Furthermore, for a three-day conference held in the US, the average greenhouse gas emissions per participant were found to be 952 kg CO2eq according to an article published in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment; this conference involved 228 people, 87 percent of attendees came from the US and 13 percent came from the rest of the world, and the emissions calculations included transportation, catering and accommodation.

But what does 952 kg of CO2eq really look like? According to CO2Everything, a website that provides a better perspective on the carbon footprint of everyday products, one single-use plastic bag is equivalent to 1.58 kg CO2eq or 8 km of driving. Therefore, 952 kg CO2eq from one attendee attending a small conference is equivalent to producing 603 plastic bags or driving 4,820 km. Try to fit all those plastic bags in your cupboard!

Additionally, an article published in Nature Communications found that transitioning from in-person to virtual conferencing can substantially decrease the carbon footprint by 94 percent and energy use by 90 percent; the study considered factors that contribute to in-person and virtual conferencing, such as preparation, execution, catering, accommodation, transportation and information and communication technology.

This infographic puts the carbon footprint of a small conference into a big-picture perspective:

Transitioning from in-person to virtual conferencing can substantially decrease the carbon footprint of an event.

But let’s face it — in-person tradeshows are here to stay, as they’ve been a tried-and-true tradition across all industries. And in-person events do offer a unique and personalized experience.

However, in addition to a large environmental footprint, in-person events are expensive, inflexible and limited in terms of their audience reach.

On the other hand, webinars are a cost-effective way to instantly connect with people from all over the world while lowering a company’s environmental footprint — a win-win situation.

Budgets Must Include Webinars to Reach a Global Audience

By dedicating a larger portion of your budget to webinars, you can not only reduce your organization’s environmental footprint, but also reach a global audience. With webinars, your peers and target audience can be reached from all corners of the world, and they can access the recorded archives at their convenience, without leaving the office or home office.

Therefore, more people can attend — and are encouraged to by their own companies whose budgets and workloads often bear the burden of event attendance. Webinars also share a cost savings for both attendees and panelists/speakers.

Partner with Xtalks to Help Meet Earth Day 2023 Goals

The life sciences, medical device and food industries can connect with Xtalks to be more eco-conscious by producing webinars. In addition, organizations can increase their attendee numbers without the limitations of travel, time and cost.

Partnering with Xtalks to produce and market your webinar also provides ample opportunity for data collection to track attendance, engagement and other metrics in real time.

Working with Xtalks’ staff is truly an extension of your marketing department and efforts. Xtalks will handle everything to ensure we reach your audience so your marketing team can be used to do other productive work in your organization.

With Xtalks webinars, we can engage your audience like never before by using webcams, poll questions and the question-and-answer (Q&A) segment, making it more interactive.

Although people may still enjoy getting out of their office to attend large venues, they may feel lost in the sea of guests, unable to pose a question or get a reply. By attending Xtalks’ webinars, you can now speak and be seen by a worldwide audience. Our speakers also say they feel more likely to forge meaningful connections with their audiences.

More businesses need to work towards being green to help make our actions on Earth sustainable. Connect with Xtalks to discuss how we can work together to save our planet and continue to reach your global target audience with our webinars.