April 8, 2021

10 Best Environmental Documentaries to Watch in 2021

Sustainability

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had an innate love for the natural world. But it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I became exposed to environmental education and started to realize how our planet is in danger and we had the power to make a difference with our daily choices.

Documentaries have played a pivotal role in my journey towards sustainable and compassionate living. It’s one thing to hear about the issues going on in the world, but it’s another to see it with your own eyes. It was through documentaries that I made the choice to go plant-based 5 years ago and although I’ve re-introduced some eggs and seafood since then, I have a new perspective on life and the impact I want to have.

The weight of all of the issues we face in our world can seem really daunting, but I believe there is so much power in educating ourselves and opening our eyes to the immense need for change so we can be a part of it.

So here are my favorite environmental documentaries that will inspire you to make a difference today:

The Biggest Little Farm

This documentary instantly became my favorite upon watching it and has played a big role in my desire to pursue a life outside of the city and with lots of land. It’s a story of a couple that ditched their tiny apartment in California and bought up a ton of land in the Central Valley of CA in the worst possible condition. Through blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of love, they brought this dead piece of land back to life and tell the story of their now flourishing farm. The husband is a filmmaker so the cinematography is 10/10 and will be sure to make you want to start your own farm.

It’s not available on Netflix but you can purchase The Biggest Little Farm on their website and I promise it’s worth the money.

Kiss The Ground

My husband and I discovered this documentary about a month ago and it was one of the most educational I’ve seen thus far, and talks about one of the biggest issues around climate change which is the health of our soil. It uses science to explain why soil health is crucial to the health of our planet and how our modern farming practices are destroying it and what needs to be done to reserve the damage we’ve done. 10/10 recommend.

Kiss The Ground is available on Netflix.

Cowspiracy

Cowspiracy has become one of the most talked-about documentaries on the internet, and there have been both good and bad things to say. This documentary claims that animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change and should be our #1 focus when it comes to shifting our choices for a better future. It sheds a light on the corruption within the most popular environmental organizations and the impact that animal agriculture has on the environment in terms of methane emissions. It’s the documentary that led me to go mainly plant-based about 5 years ago which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Cowspiracy is available on Netflix.

Seaspiracy

Seaspiracy is a new documentary by the same producers as Cowspiracy, and this time focuses on the environmental impact of the fishing industry. I was really excited to watch this documentary because I reintroduced fish back into my diet a few years ago for health reasons, but I never took the time to truly educate myself on the industry and if wish was really sustainable after all. This documentary is very shocking and eye opening and will open your eyes to the truth behind the fishing industry and how harmful it is not only to the environment but to wildlife and humans, as well. If you’ve been wondering about how to eat seafood sustainably, I definitely recommend giving this one a watch.

Seaspiracy is available to watch on Netflix.

Before the Flood

Before the Flood is a documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio in collaboration with National Geographic. Leo has been a prominent voice for environmental advocacy in recent years so it was very exciting to see him release this documentary that explains catastrophe our planet is headed towards if we continue down the path we are currently on. They partnered with scientists and traveled the world to show the problems we are currently facing and what needs to be done to preserve life on earth for future generations.

You can find where to watch Before The Flood on their website here.

A Plastic Ocean

A Plastic Ocean is an award-winning documentary created by a filmmaker and a free-diver that traveled the world documenting the shocking effects of plastic pollution we are facing today. It goes into the impact that plastic pollution will have on our world and the various technologies and innovations that could help end this crisis and pave the way for a plastic-free world. If you’ve been struggling to ditch single-use plastic, this documentary may just give you the push you need.

A Plastic Ocean is available on Netflix.

Sustainable

Sustainable dives into modern agriculture and how commercial farming practices have been destroying our soil and how government subsidies have fueled an agriculture system that only benefits those at the top. It explores a group of farmers who are teaching others how to invest in regenerative agriculture that will save their soil, produce higher yields, remove toxic chemicals, and provide a better life for the farmer and customer.

You can rent Sustainable for $5 through their website.

Wasted

Wasted is a documentary produced by Anthony Bourdain (rest in peace) that highlights the problem of food waste, which is a major issue that I believe is not talked about nearly enough. Around 40% of food purchased is thrown in the trash, and unfortunately the vast majority of that food ends up in the landfill where it is starved of oxygen and is not able to biodegrade. It explores countries like South Korea that have come up with solutions to help encourage citizens to produce less waste and compost their food scraps instead.

Wasted is available for rent on Prime Video.

The True Cost

The True Cost is about the impact the clothing industry has on our world and how damaging it is for the environment and harmful for many of those involved in it. I was first introduced to this documentary about 5 years ago and it played a big role in my switch to a minimalist and sustainable wardrobe. When it comes to things that we can do with our consumer dollars, I believe that this is one of the best way to make a real difference with something as simple as the clothing we buy.

The True Cost is available on Netflix.

Our Planet

Our Planet is a Netflix’s first nature documentary series narrated by David Attenborough. It is a cinematic adventure similar to Planet Earth that makes you feel up close and personal with the earth’s wonders. What makes this series different is they now highlight the plight many of the wild animals are facing as a result of climate change and will stir in you a desire to protect them at all costs. I love that David Attenborough is able to take his life’s work and now create this type of series that calls us out to be the change.

Want to know what you can do today to reduce your environmental impact? Here’s a list of a few easy solutions:

  • Reduce or remove animal products from your diet
  • Purchase locally sourced and organic produce
  • Start composting your food scraps + use the compost to garden
  • Quit fast fashion and instead purchase secondhand clothing or handmade clothing
  • Ditch single use plastic and bring a reusable water bottle, tote bags, and cutlery with you
  • Walk or bike instead of driving whenever possible
  • Consider switching to an electric vehicle
  • Only eat seafood when it’s local and caught by small, independent fisheries
  • Learn to make your own products in glass instead of having to purchase them in plastic
  • Grow your own food in your backyard or even inside your house with a farmstand

Which of these documentaries have had an impact on your own life and how has it changed your perspective? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

meet the writer

I'm Donna Irene.

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A photographer, writer, and educator with a passion for helping people quit the hustle and live filled with purpose. When I picked up
a camera over 10 years ago, I had no idea it would take me around the world getting to photograph for everything from fortune 500
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And now that I've been to 40+ countries and counting, I want to
use my talents to inspire others to use their creativity to make the world better. Follow along for resources on authentic travel experiences, sustainability, and building a business with intention.

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Photographer, educator, environmentalist, and dog mom. I've turned a passion for photography into my dream job and I want to
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Hi! I'm Donna.

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