Grab some popcorn and settle in to watch one of these great eco documentaries. At the beginning of “Shelter at Home” we went looking for documentary recommendations from our Facebook fans (you do follow us on Facebook, right?!). We asked everyone what some of their favorite sustainability/zero-waste/environmental documentaries were. Below is a collection of their responses and a glimpse at our movie queue, in no particular order. What other documentaries might you recommend?
REUSE Because You Can’t Recycle The Planet. This film isn’t about our waste problem. It’s about solutions. And they are everywhere! We live in a challenging time. Climate change and mass consumption are threatening our planet’s existence. Excessive extraction of natural resources has created immeasurable waste and pollution. This issue is complicated and imminent. While recognition and awareness is important, direct action is by far the most effective. But traditional recycling is not enough. The reuse mission offers a more sustainable solution that everyone can be a part of. REUSE Because You Can’t Recycle The Planet follows Reuse Pro Alex Eaves’ cross-country adventure to the 48 contiguous U.S. states. On his journey, he finds endless reuse solutions for our waste problem that are not only sustainable, but many of which are easy and fun And he learns just how reuse truly benefits people, planet, and wallet.
(Bonus Footage – Check out Alex Eaves of REUSE and his interview with our CEO, Lindsey here!)
STINK! opens with a foul smell and a pair of kids pajamas. And a single father trying to find out what that smell could possibly be. But instead of getting a straight answer, director Jon Whelan stumbles on an even bigger issue in America, which is that some products on our store shelves are not safe — by design.
STRAWS is a powerful documentary film about straws and other plastic pollution that inundate our waterways and oceans. The film entertains and inspires action. It illustrates how individuals, groups and business owners around the globe are reducing plastic straw use through education, outreach, policy development and utilization of non-plastic alternatives. There’s a rising tide of individuals, businesses and public officials that are stepping up to be a part of the solution; and to help stop the use of plastic straws. STRAWS, the film, can amplify this movement and inspire a ripple effect, creating a sea of change around the world. The team behind the Straws film have established an impact campaign. Their goal is to bring the Straws message to 250,000 students. Straws is also one of our nonprofit partners!
What starts as a film about plastic bags evolves into a wholesale investigation into plastic’s effects on our oceans, environment, and bodies. We see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up to us…and what we can do about it.
Tales by Light (Netflix TV Series)
Behind every powerful image is a powerful story. Uniting exploration, photography and the natural world, Tales By Light follows photographers from Australia and around the world as they push the limits of their craft.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged.
As Andersen approaches leaders in the environmental movement, he increasingly uncovers what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issue of animal agriculture, while industry whistleblowers and watchdogs warn him of the risks to his freedom and even his life if he dares to persist.
As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet, and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population.
Minimalism: A Documentary – How might your life be better with less? This film examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life.
A Plastic Ocean (Netflix)
If it was happening in one gyre, they suspected it was happening in all of them. But the filmmakers needed experts to prove it.
Scientists were brought in at each stage to analyze the findings from one part of the story to add their data to the overall report on the five gyres.
In the center of the Pacific Ocean gyre researchers found more plastic than plankton. A Plastic Ocean documents the newest science, proving how plastics, once they enter the oceans, break up into small particulates that enter the food chain where they attract toxins like a magnet. These toxins are stored in seafood’s fatty tissues, and eventually consumed by us.
This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.
Plastic Wars (YouTube)
With the plastic industry expanding like never before and the crisis of ocean pollution growing, FRONTLINE and NPR investigate the fight over the future of plastics, the crisis of water pollution and whether the plastic industry used recycling to sell more plastic.
Chasing Coral (Netflix)
Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.
Showing solutions, telling a feel-good story… this may be the best way to solve the ecological, economical and social crises that our countries are going through. After a special briefing for the journal Nature announced the possible extinction of a part of mankind before the end of the 21st century, Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, together with a team of four people, carried out an investigation in ten different countries to figure out what may lead to this disaster and above all how to avoid it.
During their journey, they met the pioneers who are re-inventing agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education. Joining those concrete and positive actions which are already working, they began to figure out what could be tomorrow’s world…
2040 (Releasing in the USA June 5th 2020)
2040 is a hybrid feature documentary that looks to the future, but is vitally important NOW!
The 2040 journey began with award-winning director Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film). Motivated by concerns about the planet his 4-year-old daughter would inherit, Damon embarked on a global journey to meet innovators and changemakers in the areas of economics, technology, civil society, agriculture, education and sustainability. Drawing on their expertise, he sought to identify the best solutions, available to us now, that would help improve the health of our planet and the societies that operate within it. From marine permaculture to decentralised renewable energy projects, he discovered that people all over the world are taking matters into their own hands.
This journey is the central premise for the documentary ‘2040’, a story of hope that looks at the very real possibility that humanity could reverse global warming and improve the lives of every living thing in the process. It is a positive vision of what ‘could be’, instead of the dystopian future we are so often presented.
Is it possible to live completely waste-free? In this multi-award winning, festival favourite, partners Jen and Grant go head to head in a competition to see who can swear off consumerism and produce the least garbage Their light-hearted competition is set against a darker examination of the problem waste. Even as Grant and Jen start to garner interest in their project, they struggle to find meaning in their minuscule influence on the large-scale environmental impacts of our “throw-away society”. Described as An Inconvenient Truth meets Super Size Me, The Clean Bin Project features laugh out loud moments, stop motion animations, and unforgettable imagery. Captivating interviews with renowned artist, Chris Jordan and TED Lecturer Captain Charles Moore, make this film a fun and inspiring call to individual action that speaks to crowds of all ages.
Broken (series on Netflix)
This investigative docuseries shows how negligence and deceit in the production and marketing of popular consumer items can result in dire outcomes. Broken is made up of four stand-alone, investigative films. Each episode explores the manufacturing processes and cultural forces behind the demand for four landmark products: counterfeit makeup, e-cigarettes, cheap furniture, and plastic.
The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chesters unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination. Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals, and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, The Biggest Little Farm provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.
From coastal cities to America’s heartland, Paris to Pittsburgh celebrates how Americans are demanding and developing real solutions in the face of climate change. And as the weather grows more deadly and destructive, they aren’t waiting on Washington to act.
Inhabit is a feature-length documentary introducing permaculture: a design method that offers an ecological lens for solving issues related to agriculture, economics, governance, and on. The film presents a vast array of projects, concepts, and people, and it translates the diversity of permaculture into something that can be understood by an equally diverse audience. For those familiar, it will be a call to action and a glimpse into what’s possible – what kind of projects and solutions are already underway. For those unfamiliar, it will be an introduction to a new way of being and a new way of relating to the Earth. For everyone, it will be a reminder that humans are capable of being planetary healing forces.
What The Health (Netflix)
What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.
What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.
In Defense of Food tackles a question more and more people around the world have been asking: What should I eat to be healthy? Based on award-winning journalist Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, the program explores how the modern diet has been making us sick and what we can do to change it.
Artifishal is a film by Patagonia about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that supports them. It explores wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our continued loss of faith in nature. They investigate the impacts of overfishing and how our taste for seafood is devastating wildlife below the surface everywhere from the Pacific Sound to the fjords or Norway.
Living the Change is a feature-length documentary that explores solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – through the inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities in order to live in a sustainable and regenerative way.
Dominion is a feature-length documentary presenting an uncompromising, damning exploration of the various ways animals are used and abused by humans, particularly in the meat, dairy, egg, clothing and entertainment industries.
Filmed in Australia, ‘Dominion’ combines footage from handheld, hidden, and aerial drone cameras, much of it never seen before, to convey both the terrifying scale of an empire built on secrecy – and the individual stories of its victims.
Focusing on the legal, industry-standard practices that occur all over the world, the film questions the morality and validity of humankind’s dominion over the animal kingdom, advocating not for minor improvements to their welfare but for a deeper conversation about our right to exploit those we deem inferior to ourselves.
Unraveling one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time, a group of citizens in West Virginia take on a powerful corporation after they discover it has knowingly been dumping a toxic chemical – now found in the blood of 99.7% of Americans – into the drinking water supply.
For even more, check out these must-see Climate, Nature and Environment Documentaries!