Documentaries to Binge-Watch for an Eco Education

Documentaries to Binge-Watch for an Eco Education

These seven documentaries cover topics on veganism, sustainability and minimalism that will, hopefully, shake beliefs and urge some change in the world. 

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014, Netflix)

Would you risk your life for something you truly believe in to challenge the norm? Kip Andersen lives an average American life. Things changed for him after watching a staggering documentary called An Inconvenient Truth, and he suddenly becomes an OCE (Obsessive Compulsive Environmentalist). He starts taking shorter showers, uses energy-saving light bulbs, composts, cycles everywhere and so on. He does everything that is in the power of an individual. But would that really be all?

When looking for answers on how to live a more sustainable life, he finds shocking facts about how raising livestock might be the biggest polluter of the environment. But why does nobody ever talk about it? On his quest to uncover the truth, he demands answers from the world’s leading environmental organisations and the government. He interviews environmental authors, researchers, and visits sustainable farms. Tension starts to grow as people are reluctant to answer the most important question: What is the leading cause of the destruction of our planet? A compulsory watch that raises the question: What would you do if you had the solution to climate change all along? 

The True Cost (2015, Prime Video)

Clothing is a way of communication. Our style represents who we are. Often we are caught up in the bombardment of advertisements from major brands that encourage us to have it all. How the pursuit of stuff is going to make us happy and finally fill that void. And due to the birth of the fast fashion movement, it feels like we can actually have it all. But at what cost? Who is behind the cheap items we wear? 

The Rana Plaza disaster is the biggest factory disaster in history and among many that took place in Bangladesh, the land of low-cost labour and extremely poor working conditions. An eight-story building collapsed, and the disastrous accident took the life of at least 1132 garment workers and injured another 2500. People died as a result of negligence from the management about the environment they were forced to work in. They died while making our clothes, their human rights being completely ignored.

The True Cost, an extensive documentary is a desperate wake-up call to society about over-exploited workers, struggling farmers and the polluted environment. It makes you think twice about where your clothes are coming from and who, at the bottom of the supply chain, pays the price for it every single day.

A Life on Our Planet (2020, Netflix)

Legendary broadcaster, David Attenborough has experienced the living world firsthand in all its variety and wonder throughout his career. And in A Life on our Planet, he recounts the best time of his life. The best of our lives. By going back to 1937, to nature’s ideal state, he shares how humankind has run the world’s biodiversity into a decline. How the world’s population has more than tripled during this century, CO2 levels are now at alarming levels and the natural world, our remaining wilderness, is fading away. 

He draws a tragic comparison between the times when Earth was our Garden of Eden and the collapse of the living world, and comes up with a welcome solution. There is still a chance for us, as he says, to make amends. The story of a global decline is about understanding the natural world has and will always prevail, but humanity needs to act now to secure its place on this planet.

Kiss the Ground (2020, Netflix)

Dealing with climate change has been approached in many ways so far. Veganism, plastic-free and sustainable lifestyles, conscious and minimalistic living, they are all part of the solution. Everyone has a way of responding to this phenomenon – at least on an individual level. But when it comes to rapid changes, is there anything new under the sun or has society just happened to miss out on something?

Odds are, we probably have. It all goes back to something way simpler: the state of our soil. Healthy soil leads to a healthy plant, and healthy food leads to a healthy human. It’s all connected. But instead of embracing soil and all the living organisms, that whole universe down there capturing carbon, is destroyed by modern agriculture. It’s estimated if we continue going on like this, we only have six harvests left. 

But there are people in every fight who refuse to give up. Kiss the Ground is a truly uplifting, optimistic reminder about how we don’t need much to restore Earth’s paradise because the very thing we need is right under our feet. 

The Minimalists: Less Is Now (2021, Netflix)

When was the last time you purchased an item? Was it just for the sake of buying or is it actually serving a purpose? Do you feel like you are addicted to clutter? Or suffering from ‘stuffitis’? Chances are, as technology is getting more advanced, we are also getting obsessed with constantly surrounding ourselves with more and more gadgets or knick-knacks. But can we escape the latest technology traps? 

American authors, podcasters, filmmakers, or just simply The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus tell you the secret to living a meaningful life that’s free of material possessions. By sharing their upbringings and career pathways, we understand how the world of overconsumption can easily turn into our worst nightmare (if we let it); how by letting go little by little and deciding to live intentionally, we can have more than we could ever imagine.

Chasing Coral (2017, Netflix)

Oceans are a source of life. They control nature’s forces and are home to many wonderful ecosystems. And among those are the corals. Richard Vevers, underwater photographer is on the mission after discovering one of his favourite sea creatures, the weedy seadragon, disappearing to see what else is going on in our waters. He shockingly finds that our corals are dying. 

With the help of an underwater camera technician team, Richard places underwater time-lapse cameras in different parts of the world to capture coral bleaching. On his journey, he meets marine and coral reef biologists and finds that corals turning white is an inevitable consequence of our oceans getting warmer. It’s the ultimate result of climate change. 

This shocking story reveals how the last thing we’d assume would fall victim to global warming is slowly fading away. Corals are like the trees in our forests. Its disappearance can affect many lives beyond the oceans. If you are still in denial about the ongoing climate emergency, especially about what it does to our oceans and its ecosystems, then this movie is for you. It’s a real eye-opener.

A Plastic Ocean (2016, Netflix)

Have you ever wondered about where our weekly plastic recycling ends up? How almost every piece of plastic ever made is still on the planet in some form or another? How there is no such thing as “going away” when we put something in our bins? Chances are high, after disposing of rubbish, plastic junk finds its way to the depths of our oceans. And from there, potentially to our plates.

By setting out to find his childhood’s most admired sea animal, the blue whale, Craig Leeson, journalist and filmmaker, discovers something more pressing: the drastic levels of plastic pollution and its effects on the oceans’ ecosystems across the globe. He demonstrates how by being told about the importance of recycling, we got it all wrong. This comprehensive documentary reveals how plastic can cause harm not only to thousands of marine mammals but how it’s slowly suffocating the whole world too. 

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