I have compiled a list of some of the eco-documentaries I watched when I was new to low waste living. Watching documentaries is an easy (read: lazy) way to get educated about our environment. I chose a variety of documentaries to cover a wide range of environmental topics including: pollution, animal agriculture, fast fashion, food waste, and climate change. I will update this list every now and again when I find something new I think is worth sharing with you all!
1. Garbage Island
Vice produced “Garbage Island” to find out what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is really all about. This garbage patch is the North Pacific Gyre, a large rotating ocean current where much of our litter gets collected into a plastic soup. The Vice crew sails out to the garbage patch with Charles Moore, the discover of the garbage patch, and a chemist studying the effects and extent of the pollution to see the gyre for themselves.
This documentary was very eye-opening about the reach of human carelessness and the extent of the trouble we have caused. It is available on Vice’s website or on YouTube.
“Cowspiracy” is an eco-documentary about animal agriculture and its effects on the environment. It follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he investigates why organizations are resistant to discussing animal agriculture as a main driver of climate change and pollution. It is well-documented that animal agriculture contributes to deforestation, water consumption, and habitat loss. But even environmental organizations are hesitant to call it out.
As someone who cuts out meat and animal products for environmental reasons, I believe this documentary is a very good tool to educate others to go vegan for reasons beyond animal rights issues. You can watch “Cowspiracy” on Netflix.
3. Forks Over Knives
In contrast to “Cowspiracy”, “Forks Over Knives” looks beyond the issues of animal agriculture to discuss how animal products in our diet affect our health. This documentary focuses on the work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. These doctors prescribe diet changes instead of bottles of pills to patients with diseases like diabetes and heart disease. In many cases, patients reduced their dependence on medications just by eating healthy, plant-based foods.
This documentary convinced my husband to reduce his red meat consumption and ultimately led to him giving it up entirely except on very rare occasions. “Forks Over Knives” is also available on Netflix.
4. The True Cost
“The True Cost” takes a look at the garment industry and the rise of “fast fashion”. Fast Fashion is the trend of cheap clothing (in quality and price) to be worn only a handful of times before being tossed. This documentary goes inside the garment factories and follows the stories of workers to expose unsafe and abusive conditions and jobs that pay very little. Watch now on their website!
This documentary convinced me to buy secondhand or ethically for as much of my wardrobe as possible. Find out more reasons to thrift shop here!
5. Blue Planet 2
David Attenborough, a prolific environmentalist, produced and narrated “Blue Planet 2”. Each episode focuses on a single area of the world’s oceans and contains a strong message about the human impact on those locations. The episodes are fascinatingly educational, and who doesn’t love David Attenborough’s voice? This series, available on Netflix, brought climate change and ocean pollution education into many homes that otherwise may not have known about our impact.
I have always loved nature shows, but this one is definitely the top for making sure the ending message of the episodes is about human impacts on our oceans.
6. Global Waste: The Scandal of Food Waste
“Global Waste” addresses the growing but sometimes invisible problem of food waste around the world. Our food waste problem extends way farther back than most people think. Before food waste ends up in household trashes, grocery stores and even suppliers toss tons and tons into the trash. It is on Netflix in French, but that’s what subtitles are for!
This documentary was so shocking because we think about the waste in our kitchens and maybe even the waste from the grocery store, but how often do we think about waste at the producer level?
I’m always looking for a good documentary to watch. Do you have any recommendations? Any thoughts after watching these? Let me know!