10 Must-Watch Documentaries about Sustainability

Culture /

From The True Cost to Cowspiracy

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Knowledge is power, and in the case of protecting the planet, the more we know about our impact and how we can reverse the effects, the better. As Einstein once said; “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” From uncovering the ‘true cost’ of fashion to unearthing the planet’s best-kept sustainability practices with Zac Efron, each of these insightful documentaries about sustainability highlights an array of environmental issues – and more importantly, what can be done to reverse humanity’s harmful habits.

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10 Must-Watch Documentaries about Sustainability

Down to Earth with Zac Efron

Having seen Zac Efron star in the likes of High School Musical and The Greatest Showman, a Netflix docuseries based on wellness and sustainability appeared an unnatural move for the American heartthrob – which only made the series all the more intriguing. When you discover that the actor is recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, his journey across the world in search of healthier ways of living – both for us and for the planet – seems all the more apt. Joined by friend and health expert Darin Olien, Zac journeys to a number of destinations to learn about wellbeing and environmental efforts across different cultures, from discovering an eco-village in Costa Rica to beekeeping in New York and undergoing a healing vapour bath in Iquitos.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

If you’ve ever had doubts about the ethical and environmental impact of animal farming, this eye-opening documentary is sure to change your mind. From air pollution to deforestation to a significant loss of biodiversity, filmmaker and environmentalist Kip Andersen investigates one of the leading contributors to climate change – livestock are responsible for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse emissions, according to the FAO (Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) – and unearths why a whole host of leading environmental organisations are unwilling to act. If you hadn’t considered a plant-based diet, you might after watching this.

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The Biggest Little Farm

An inspiring and informative documentary spotlighting the highs and lows of sustainable farming, The Biggest Little Farm follows the journey of John and Molly Chester as they up sticks to a 200-acre farm in California, transforming it into a biodiverse and environmentally-friendly estate. The documentary – filmed and directed by Emmy award-winner John Chester himself – has won multiple awards, including Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and even made the 92nd Oscars shortlist for best documentary feature.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Does what it says on the tin: a documentary about living with less, and why it’s beneficial for both us and the planet. If you find yourself spending too much time (and money) getting caught up in consumerism, this one’s an eye-opening watch.

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Our Planet

National treasure David Attenborough narrates this awe-inspiring eight-part nature documentary, journeying from ‘frozen worlds’ devastatingly yielding to climate change to jungles and rainforests filled with fascinating creatures. Exhilarating and educational, each episode both celebrates our environment, whilst touching on the importance of safeguarding it.

The Ivory Game

According to World Elephant Day, the elephant population has decreased by 62 percent over the past decade, in which approximately 100 African elephants are killed by poachers each day. This documentary explores just that – the unlawful poaching of elephants for their ivory, and those who are at the centre of this felonious ‘black market’. From Kenya to Hong Kong and beyond, directors Keif Davidson and Richard Ladkani undergo a 16 month investigation into elephant poaching and ivory smuggling, informing and inspiring action in order to preserve the species.

Chasing Coral

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Audience Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Chasing Coral explores the earth’s fascinating underwater ecosystems, and the calamitous threat to which climate change ensues against them.

The True Cost

A fashion-focused documentary that questions the true cost of your clothing, filmmaker Andrew Morgan uncovers the devastating ethical and environmental impact of clothes manufacturing, particularly in developing countries. From factory collapses – specifically that of Savar in 2013 – to destruction of the natural environment, this alarming documentary will make you think twice before investing in fast fashion.

More Than Honey

As Friends of the Earth states, ‘bees are essential to a healthy environment and healthy economy’, but a combination of climate change, habitat loss, pesticides and more are causing them to decline. A Swiss documentary directed by Oscar-nominated director Markus Imhoof, More Than Honey explores this collapse of bee colonies and what we can do about it.

Before The Flood

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio steps out of his comfort zone to uncover the cataclysmic effects of climate change, following an insightful three-year journey across the world. Disaffirming politicians and ‘non-believers’ are put into question, whilst scientists – and even former US President Barack Obama – share significant insights on the matter.

Featured image: Riccardo Chiarini on Unsplash

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