It’s Earth Month! These days, the importance of educating yourself about global issues is not to be understated.
Since the sheer amount of content out there can get overwhelming, we put together a list of our favorite documentaries to help.
Without further ado... here are our top 5 choices for must see environmental documentaries (and yes, they’re all available on Netflix!).
5) My Octopus Teacher (August, 2020)
This Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary follows the lifecycle of an individual octopus off the coast of South Africa. Filmmaker Craig Foster shares his story of befriending the creature, and the impact the experience had on his life.
His philosophy for filming the project is impressive to say the least, as he left his scuba gear in a backpack and filmed the entire thing while free-diving!
While the documentary doesn’t focus on environmental issues at large, the underlying message of humankind's innate connection to nature is quite moving.
4) Chasing Coral (July, 2017)
Recent years have brought to light one of the most heartbreaking effects of climate change; coral bleaching. In oceans all over the world, coral reefs are dying. As the ocean absorbs heat, coral reefs are transforming from brilliant underwater spectacles of color, into white coral graveyards.
In this film, a dedicated team of scuba diving coral advocates set out to document this bleaching. This proves to be no small task, but the obstacles they must overcome are no match for their drive to spread awareness.
“Out of sight, out of mind” is unfortunately, human nature. This documentary serves as a crucial reminder that we must actively engage with the world around us, so that its screams don’t go unnoticed.
3) Kiss the Ground (April, 2020)
The only documentary on our list that isn’t a Netflix original, but don’t worry, you can still watch it on the popular streaming service.
This film highlights the importance of healthy soil in agriculture. It compares harmful, normalized farming practices to healthy and sustainable ones.
Actor/activist Woody Harrelson narrates the film, making the science based proposals easy to understand. The film explains how healthy soil has the incredible ability to actually draw carbon out of the atmosphere. Leading to improved human health, economic growth, a reduction in global poverty and, of course, farming that is truly sustainable.
It is a refreshing take on environmentalism from the ground up.
2) Seaspiracy (March, 2021)
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Seaspiracy. The film has climbed top ten lists all over the world since its March 24th release date, making it the most recent documentary on our list.
Filmmakers Ali and Lucy Tabrizi were interested in cleaning up ocean plastic, and determined to understand the problem at its source.
So they did what any dedicated filmmaker would do... rolled up their sleeves, grabbed their hiking backpacks, and went to work.
What they discover is horrifying to say the least, as the film ends up exploring the huge and hidden effects of industrialized fishing practices around the globe.
Relentless questioning, thorough research and dangerous travel all play a role in uncovering the truth of the seafood we encounter every day. This one is not to be missed!
1) David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (April, 2020)
A film from the man you’ve likely listened to and learned from for decades! Sir David Attenbourough, narrator of many nature series including the wildly popular Blue Planet, recounts a lifetime of exploring the most remote places on Earth.
Attenborough, who turns 95 next month, claims the film to be his “witness statement” of the effects mankind has had on the environment.
There are several reasons this documentary has earned the top spot on our list, but above all, it is hopeful. While the film doesn’t shy away from the horrors of human impact, it assures you that hope is very much alive.
Educating yourself about environmental issues can be a taxing and emotional experience, and the reassurance offered by Attenborough is a necessary comfort.
If you’re willing to engage in these important conversations, there is a better tomorrow on the horizon for all of us.
Happy Earth Month!
Do you agree with our choices? Have another documentary to recommend? Drop a comment below and add to the discussion!