12 Documentaries To Watch If You Want To Get Serious About Sustainability

Netflix and giving a damn about the planet

Get smarter whilst lazing on the couch...

The topic of sustainable living seems to be at the top of minds in today's pop culture. Slow living, ethical fashional, responsible food choices, green beauty and climate change are all topics that have become increasingly important over the past few months. Documentaries, in particular, have been streaming on our screens helping to shine a light on environmental issues

From fast fashion (is shopping really that bad?) to global warming (what will happen if the ice caps actually do completely melt?) and the whole issue of animals going extinct (we can't live in a world without koalas); documentaries are able to address the most pressing issues that should be keeping the world’s leaders awake at night, all whilst providing some clear instructions on what we can do to turn things around.

With that in mind, we've rounded up the sustainable documentaries that spurred us into making #onesmallchange. So break out that zero waste popcorn, grab a blanket, and learn something new about the world we live in...

FASHION

True Cost

The True Cost” pulls back the curtain on the fashion industry to give viewers an honest look at the human and environmental costs of producing clothing. Featuring a stellar lineup (Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Lucy Siegle), filmmaker Andrew Morgan goes to various parts of the planet to witness first-hand how fashion manufacturing processes are affecting both people and the environment. A great film to get you moving down the sustainable fashion road.

Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion

Here, Alex James switches his bass guitar for a camera as he takes a closer look at the fashion industry, and how consumers' seemingly unquenchable thirst for cheap clothing is having a huge effect on the environment and workers, both in the UK and abroad.

Bitter Seeds

Focusing on India, the world’s largest exporter of cotton - this film investigates the correlation between the staggering suicide rates among Indian farmers and the introduction of Monsanto engineered GMO cotton seeds. Bt cotton was created to alleviate stress on farmers by reducing the need for pesticides, unfortunately, it has had the reverse effect.

FOOD

More Than Honey

Did you know that if bees were to disappear from the globe, mankind would have only four years left to live? Not great. In “More Than Honey,” Oscar-nominated director Markus Imhoof tackles the issue of why bees are facing worldwide extinction.

Cowspiracy

Rather than taking a purely ‘save the animals’ stance on animal agriculture, “Cowspiracy” digs deep into its environmental impact as the leading cause of carbon emissions, global warming, deforestation, and just about everything else. 

Earthlings

Earthlings takes an unflinching look at our treatment of animals used for food, fashion, science and entertainment. The film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, with haunting music by Moby. Powerful, graphic and provocative, it’s guaranteed to change the way you view your consumer choices and even humanity itself.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Before The Flood

When Leo speaks, we listen. And so he made this film; both a political statement and desperate call to arms. As a United Nations Messenger of Peace, the Academy Award-winning actor travels to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand. He speaks with the Pope, activists in India, scientists in Greenland, and President Obama. And he urges us to think about how we’re impacting our climate. 

True North

True North consists of 16 11-minute episodes, led by John Iadarola  (co-host of The Young Turks’ ThinkTank channel) and investigative reporter and filmmaker Chavala Madlena . Alongside a group of scientists, cartographers, and other associates, Iadarola and Madlena report from remote Arctic locations in order to discover how climate change is affecting local populations and ecosystems. What makes True North unique is that it’s not a conventional docudrama miniseries. It’s more about several smaller, short anecdotal stories that build up to the larger topic of climate change.

Our Planet

In the same way Blue Planet exposed the heartbreaking realities of our plastic consumption on ocean wildlife, Our Planet is having an equally powerful effect on our attitudes towards climate change. Sir David Attenborough is once again, highlighting the severity of our planet’s future and the wildlife that inhabit it. “What we do in the next 20 years will determine the future for all life on earth”, he declared at the star-studded series premiere.

WASTE

Minimalism

How might your life be better with less? This documentary explores the life of a minimalist, looking at what we think makes us happy, in comparison to what actually does. How? By talking to the experts of course. Joshua and Ryan take you into the personal lives of those who already live with less, and look at how they find meaning in life. Get ready to be inspired and make your life lighter.

Plastic Paradise

Plastic Paradise is an American journalist and filmmaker Angela Sun’s journey to uncover the phenomenon of the Great Pacific garbage patch. Through encounters with scientists, researchers and volunteers, she shows us that our reliance on, and consumption of, plastic is more insidious than we think.

Waste Land

Located just outside Brazil's Rio de Janeiro, lies the world's largest garbage landfill. Modern artist Vik Muniz works with the men and women who pick through the refuse, to create art out of the recycled materials.

Main image by Daniel von Appen

READ: Week One Done: Team Irish Tatler On Their #30DayChallenge

READ MORE: What Exactly Is A Circular Economy And How Can It Save The Planet?

You May Also Like