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Documentaries about Sustainability to Watch on Netflix Right Now

Nadja Uebach
Posted by Nadja Uebach on Jan 26, 2021 7:15:00 PM

Climate Change has been covered by media for years. While it was dismissed by many people at first, in the last while it really started to receive the interest it deserves and the urgency it requires. We as people are listening and trying our best to turn things around. However, sustainability is a vast topic, and trying to find a start on your very own eco journey can be quite overwhelming. It can feel like too much to take in. So many different areas to consider, so much information to learn about. A good way of tackling the major topic that is the environment is in little junks and this is where Netflix documentaries are a real godsend!

 

No matter what aspect of sustainability you are wondering about – from the food industry, plastic consumption, or a minimalistic low impact lifestyle right through to endangered animals and our planet’s very fine eco balance – the trusted streaming service has got you covered with some fab choices of documentaries about sustainability. Here are our 10 favourites available on Netflix right now!

 

  1. Kiss the Ground

In Kiss the Ground the American actor Woody Harrelson talks to us about the very essence of our planet: soil! The documentary explains the simple principles of healthy soil and how the ground that has been worked by modern agriculture since the beginning of the 20th century has a huge impact on biodiversity and climate.

 

During the process of modernising traditional agriculture in order to meet the growing needs of humanity, the cycles of nature were disregarded. Instead, farmers have relied on monoculture and chemicals to grow their crops. The result: unhealthy and infertile soil! The 84 minutes of this documentary aren’t all doom and gloom though. On the contrary, we learn that it is not too late to turn things around. By focusing on the principles of regenerative agriculture our soil can be replenished. Which in turn won’t just lead to healthier and more eco-friendly food production and environment, but will also allow the ground to store more carbon from the atmosphere tackling another pressing problem of climate change!

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https://youtu.be/K3-V1j-zMZw

https://kissthegroundmovie.com/

 

  1. My Octopus Teacher

My Octopus Teacher truly is a documentary like no other. Instead of shocking its viewers with facts, numbers or stats in order, to get a certain message across, this documentary has a quiet, gentle, and almost magical way to inspire you to be better!

 

The film features Craig Foster a photographer living in South Africa. When swimming one day, he came across a young octopus who didn’t seem to shy away from his human presence. After he met the same octopus regularly during his swims he decided to go and visit her every single day. During his visits, he was able to form an extraordinary bond with the fascinating creature which didn’t just teach him about the animal world, but also the human world and our place in it as just one species of many. Be prepared to feel emotional and inspired alike during this 85-minute watch!

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https://youtu.be/3s0LTDhqe5A

 

  1. Down to Earth with Zac Efron

As documentaries on sustainability go, the eight episodes of Down to Earth with Zac Efron offer a broad introduction into some of the main areas of the topic. The aim of the film-makers clearly has been to offer a glimpse at some of the major problems our civilisation faces without diving in too deep. Every episode offers some interesting new perspectives and solutions as well as breathtaking footage of scenery from all around the globe.

 

If you are looking for an entertaining and easy watch covering different aspects of sustainability this won’t disappoint. Due to its superficial way of presenting problems, this is a great choice for anyone who tends to suffer from eco-anxiety or wants to introduce younger viewers to the environment and sustainability!

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https://youtu.be/oMzYiY5wcHU

https://downtoearthzacefron.com/

 

  1. A Plastic Ocean

Plastic is a growing problem for our planet. We have all seen the pictures of plastic swimming in the sea, have come across discarded plastic in nature, or have read about the stats of disposable products made from plastic. However, seeing the plastic take hold of our environment in A Plastic Ocean and learning first hand that it not just pollutes the environment but also enters our food chain is quite scary and shocking.

 

However sad and shocking the topic of this documentary is, it doesn’t end on a low note. On the contrary, with a reasonable solution-based approach the film-makers managed to leave their viewers hopeful for the future and motivated to be working towards a plastic-free planet!

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https://youtu.be/6zrn4-FfbXw

 

  1. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

David Attenborough is the face and predominantly the voice behind the breathtaking nature documentary series Our Planet. Last year Netflix released his latest docu hit: David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet!

 

In 83 minutes Sir David takes us on a journey through his 93 years on this planet. He is showing us how much the world has changed. How the wilderness was tamed and urbanised, how emissions have impacted our planet’s eco-balance and how all this doesn’t just put animal species at risk but also humanity. Beautiful imagery, cold hard facts and powerful storytelling by the man himself make for an eye-opening watch that inspires change!

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https://youtu.be/64R2MYUt394

https://www.ourplanet.com/en

 

  1. Brave Blue World

Water is probably the most essential thing in this world, and even though it seems to be in endless supply we are rapidly heading towards a water crisis. Brave Blue World takes a look at the global water supply and usage, outlining that in only a few decades we might face a life so very different from the one we know. A life without fresh water on tap!

 

Narrators like Matt Damon and Jaden Smith don’t hold back with the facts about what the future has in store for humanity. However, they are also very clear on the way this problem can be solved before it becomes a crises resulting in an overall motivating and inspiring watch.

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https://youtu.be/F-dneEJWa9s

https://www.braveblue.world/

 

  1. Chasing Coral

Coral Reefs are forming an essential part of our eco-system and under the right circumstances, they have the potential to exist for thousands of years. However, Chasing Coral reveals that those circumstances have been increasingly wrong in the last number of years. Coral reefs all over the globe have been dying at an alarming rate leaving behind nothing but skeletons. The collective coral death is permanently altering fish communities and exhilarating the extinction of many species.

 

At a point where many would feel helpless, a team of scientists offers a glimmer of hope. It is not too late to protect many of the vitally important coral reefs in our oceans. To say it in the words of one of the documentary’s narrators: “We live at a unique moment in time where we can change history!”

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https://youtu.be/b6fHA9R2cKI

https://www.chasingcoral.com/

 

  1. Mission Blue

In 94 minutes this Netflix documentary follows the renowned marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earl and her Mission Blue. Slyvia has been studying the ocean for many decades and doesn’t just understand its importance but has also seen the changes it has gone through first hand. While she is not shying away from saying things as they are, she is also hopeful that our society has the power to turn things around and restore the health of the world’s oceans.

 

Together with a team of film-makers, the environmentalist has put together an eye-opening journey to the depths of our oceans and to the very core of sustainability. Sylvia herself puts it very simply: “The ocean is dying [...] No ocean, no life. No ocean, no us.” 

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https://youtu.be/V6b7qgBbGLI

https://mission-blue.org/

 

  1. Broken

Capitalism is only possible because of our ever-growing need to consume, buy and own. In order to do that on a large scale, the market needs to offer cheap products that will automatically foster a need for more and are often disposable or made from plastic! The best-known example of this is probably fast fashion, which is not only an unsustainable concept but also a downright broken system! 

 

The documentary series Broken goes beyond the fast fashion industry and uncovers the true cost of many other popular consumer products like make-up and flat-pack furniture. Be prepared for the ugly truth of those products that we probably all have at home. The good news is though: Once you know, you know AND you can do better!

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https://youtu.be/sMPdsKvhCOo



  1. Minimalism

Does stuff make us happy? While capitalism definitely wants us to believe it does, the environment knows that this way of life is not sustainable. The Netflix documentary Minimalism offers a glimpse into the lives of many people who have realised that stuff is not a source of happiness but of discontent. It shows that a life with less is possible no matter where you are from and what your circumstances are.

 

Minimalism is a concept that doesn’t focus on all the things you can acquire in this world but rather concentrates on giving your life true meaning, which in turn results in more freedom, happiness, and contentment. And best of all: a life with less also means less plastic, less pollution and less damage to the environment. Could minimalism be the key to saving our planet? The film-makers of this 78-minute long documentary are certainly on to something!

 

More on this topic: 

The newly released The Minimalists: Less is Now https://youtu.be/jn-xbOCZOiQ

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https://youtu.be/0Co1Iptd4p4

https://www.theminimalists.com/

 

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Topics: Sustainability eco-friendly