Finished your latest Netflix binge? Don't worry — there's plenty of interesting documentaries to get comfortable with. Not only are they a great form of education, documentaries are powerful tools that bring important topics to the table — including sustainability and climate change. They can change our perspective of the world, spark conversation and start social movements.
Nowadays, there are environmental documentaries popping up all over the place on a range of different topics. It is now easier than ever to educate ourselves about the planet and how to protect it. As world leaders waver on their commitments to combat climate change, it's important for us to not stick our heads in the sand and be caught up in the negatives.
We've created a list of 6 must-watch environmental documentaries that will inspire you to take action. They might make you shed a tear or two, but each one will demonstrate the power of our choices, their impact on the environment and ignite your desire to create a better future. So grab the popcorn, hit the lights and get comfortable. Let the documentary binge-watching marathon begin!
1. A Plastic Ocean
"A Plastic Ocean" is an award-winning documentary film directed by Australian journalist Craig Leeson. It investigates the devastating effects that decades of plastic use has caused to our natural environment, in particular to our oceans and marine life. In what starts off as an adventure to film the blue whale leads to the shocking discovery of a thick layer of plastic debris in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free-diver and environmental activist Tanya Streeter and a team of scientists and researchers, travelling across the globe to explore the fragile state of our oceans. They uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution and discover the true scale of this enormous global issue. This eye-opening film is a good reminder that our actions often have larger, more far-reaching effects than what we might think — a must-watch.
Award-winning director Damon Gameau embarks on a journey to explore what the year 2040 could look like if we embraced greener solutions already available to us rather than relying on fossil fuels. Structured as a visual letter to his 4-year-old daughter, the film combines traditional documentary footage with dramatisations and stunning visual effects to create a vision board that demonstrates how these solutions could create a better world for future generations.
Unlike many other environmental documentaries, "2040" has a very positive approach to one of the world's biggest problems. It provides an interesting angle on what the world could look like if we embraced sustainable alternatives. If you're looking for a powerful and uplifting environmental documentary, this is the one for you.
In the fascinating documentary "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things," best selling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus share how our lives can be improved by living with less. Minimalism teaches us to reflect on the true value of material items and to rid ourselves from the trappings of the consumer culture we've all become accustomed to. That's not to say owning material possessions is bad — it's the value we put on these items that is causing us to forsake our health, our relationships, our families and our personal growth.
The documentary explores the ways in which everyday people from all walks of life including authors, architects and designers are trading in their material possessions in the quest to find greater meaning and happiness in their lives. It shines a light on the problem of consumerism, the waste it produces and the harmful effects it can have on our health. An inspiring and uplifting film that teaches us to appreciate the most important things in life.
4. Before the Flood
Presented by National Geographic, "Before the Flood" follows actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his team on a 3 year journey around the world where he meets with scientists, activists and leaders to discuss the effects of climate change and possible solutions. From ancient melting glaciers to levelled Indonesian tropical forests, DiCaprio unearths a climate emergency interviewing some of the world's most influential figures including former U.S. president Barack Obama, Pope Francis and tech innovator Elon Musk.
DiCaprio urges everyone to think about their choices and their impact on the environment, and gives a speech before the United Nations calling for greater action on the issue. "Before the Flood" reminds us of our responsibility to protect the world for future generations — an important message for us all!
5. The True Cost
"The True Cost" is an eye-opening film that sheds light on the fashion industry — in particular, the true cost of fast-fashion. It uncovers the devastating lack of human rights and the environmental costs the industry is having on our planet.
Filmed in countries all over the world, "The True Cost" invites us into the lives of the people and places behind the clothes we wear today. From the brightest runways in Europe to the darkest garment factories in Bangladesh, the documentary asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing? It's unlikely you'll get through this one with a dry eye. You'll never look at your wardrobe the same way ever again.
6. Just Eat It
In our opinion, this is one of the best documentaries on food waste available today. "Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story" is an award-winning film that follows the journey of Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer as they pledge to quit grocery shopping and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away.
The documentary explores our systematic obsession with expiry dates and perfect produce, both of which are having enormous environmental consequences around the globe. It brings consumers, farmers, retailers and organisations together in a story that is equal parts educational and entertaining.
So there you have it! Binge without the guilt with our 6 favourite, must-watch environmental documentaries. We hope they inspire you to live a more sustainable lifestyle — just like they have with us.
Have you watched any of these? Let us know in the comments which one is your favourite! You can follow Lapanda on Instagram or visit our blog for all things environmental, and in the meantime, happy watching!