In today’s world, where environmental concerns are paramount, having shows about sustainability is essential. Each movie shows pressing issues such as climate change, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, environmental activism, and conservation. Through such documentaries, the filmmakers shed light on the urgent need to address these challenges and promote sustainable practices.
1) Our Great National Parks
Our Great National Parks is one of the most recent documentaries on Netflix about conservation and environmental protection.
Narrated by former president Barack Obama, the series showcases 13 national parks from all over the world featuring Manuel Antonio National Park, the home of hundreds of species, including the colorful Costa Rican birds or the Volcano National Park in Rwanda, where Dian Fossey studied the gorillas for 18 years. This series is breathtaking and shows the beauty of nature and the conservation efforts of all these national parks to preserve biodiversity on our planet.
2) The Ivory Game
The Ivory Game is a 2016 documentary that follows activists, investigators, and conservationists trying to expose the world of ivory trading – starting from ruthless poachers and continuing to black market dealers who profit from the slaughter of elephants for their tusks.
Despite all conservation efforts, it is a bitter battle. While most tusks are smuggled to China, where it is illegal, there is a substantial black market for them. The movie is a desperate cry for help. It tries to convey one message frantically: for people to stop buying ivory. If there is no demand, then there will not be any supply.
3) Kiss The Ground
Kiss The Ground is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit operating in the past ten years. They advocate that regenerative agriculture is one of the possible ways to fight climate change and all the issues that come with it. Their documentary with the same title came out in 2020 on Netflix, narrated by Woody Harrelson.
If you are looking for some hope that plant diversification, soil regeneration, plant-based diet, and last but not least, political reforms can significantly fight against climate change, this is a must-watch movie for you.
4) Down to Earth
Down to Earth is also a Netflix Originals series with actor Zac Efron. He visits many locations worldwide to showcase habitat conservation, regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, or pollution-reduction efforts in an educational yet entertaining way.
He also tries many eco-friendly activities like sandboarding in Peru, zip-lining in Costa Rica, or visiting the natural wonders of Iceland. You will see he really is a down-to-earth guy.
5) A Plastic Ocean
You may guess it right that Plastic Ocean is about the global plastic pollution that significantly affects our oceans. This award-winning documentary from 2016, directed by Craig Leeson, was shot at 20 different locations for four years. Distressing would be the one word I use to describe it.
The movie shows you how plastic ends up in the ocean, what happens with marine life once they encounter it, and how it actually ends up in the food we consume. If you want a real motivation to ditch single-use plastic, this would be the movie to inspire you.
6) Chasing Coral
Chasing Coral is a documentary from 2017 directed by Jeff Orlowski that showcases the beauty and complexity of coral reefs while highlighting the alarming rate at which they are disappearing.
You may have heard the term coral bleaching, caused primarily by rising ocean temperatures due to climate change, but this documentary will shock you when you see the actual results with your own eyes. You will see the loss of vibrant colors and how a dead coral colony looks. It is as astonishing as it is heartbreaking.
Seaspiracy is a Netflix Original documentary from 2021 about the harmful practices of the fishing industry. While it introduces an important issue to people without prior knowledge, the movie received a lot of backlash for being “misleading” or “half-truth.”
Even if that is the case, the documentary is thought-provoking and shocking. It inspires people to dig deeper and discover what they can do about it. It is not about a small fishing village that needs to stop fishing despite it being their only food sauce, but about emptying the ocean for the luxury of having all types of fish available to anyone at any time and place.
8) Our Planet
Our Planet is a documentary on Netflix and narrated by Sir David Attenborough, who needs no introduction to movies about the environment. There is just something soothing to hearing his voice over the breathtaking cinematography.
It highlights the beauty of the natural world while also addressing the challenges and threats these ecosystems face due to human activities, such as climate change, deforestation, and habitat destruction. While the first season, with its eight episodes, was released in 2019, Netflix announced the second season to premiere in June 2023.
Rotten is a Netflix Original series from 2018 with two seasons and 12 episodes. It focuses on the various aspects of the global food industry and explores the corruption, controversies, and hidden truths behind different food products.
Each show is about one type of food, like honey, peanuts, wine, avocado, and chocolate, to name a few. If you want to know about the food you eat daily, where it comes from, and how it is produced, this series will reveal a darker side you may never know.
Broken is a Netflix documentary in 2019 chasing the answer to the question, “What is the true price of the product you buy?” It is the second series from the creators of Rotten.
It features four episodes about harmful ingredients in makeup, the addictive nature of vape, the environmental issues with disposable furniture, and the dark side of plastic recycling. Consumerism and sustainability don’t fit in one sentence; this series will show you exactly why.
This list is only complete if I add a documentary about the plant-based diet. Many of the previous shows touch on this topic, and its connection to the environment, but Cowspiracy focuses entirely on this. It was one of the first documentaries about the vegan lifestyle that gained a broad audience after it premiered on Netflix in 2014.
Since then, many followed suit, like Game Changers, What The Health, or Forks over Knives. It shows that dietary preferences have an environmental impact that we cannot ignore. It is also one of those choices that you, as a consumer, can only do yourself. It is powerful and eye-opening and has inspired many people to change their diet.