10 Must-Watch Environmental Documentaries

Must-watch Environmental Documentaries
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Clément M.

Movies do far more than just entertain us: Great films put us at the edge of our seats, amaze us with in-depth storytelling, teach us something new and spark curiosity, awe and amazement. Here are 10 must-see environmental documentaries and movies on responsible living you should check out today.

More than Honey (2012)

More than honey film bee honeycomb
This gripping documentary explores the massive decline in bee populations around the world. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Matthew T Rader)

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left.” – whether this is in fact a quote by Albert Einstein is disputed. It is quite clear, however, that the consequences will be dire if bees go extinct. Precisely this scenario is explored by Swiss director Markus Imhoof in his award-winning documentary “More than Honey”, which provides an in-depth look into the worldwide decrease in bee populations in recent years. Beautiful cinematography coupled with an informative analysis of the essential role bees play in modern society makes this a film well worth a watch.

Here’s where you can watch “More than Honey”:

The Game Changers (2018)

While recovering from an injury, UFC fighter James Wilks undertakes an insightful journey across the world. He searches for answers to questions surrounding ideal nutritional practices for athletes. His investigations into the best diet solutions for athletic lifestyles unearth a number of myths and reveal surprising answers. In interviews with scientists and top-tier athletes, Wilks lets the data speak for itself.

The documentary was produced by familiar names such as James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan and Lewis Hamilton. “The Game Changers” isn’t just intended for an athletic audience, but rather will prove insightful for anyone interested in varied approaches to eating and living healthy.

Here’s where you can watch “The Game Changers”:

The Ivory Game (2016)

10 Must watch documentaries The Ivory Game
“The Ivory Game” provides an in-depth look into the worldwide illegal ivory trade. (Photo: Trailer Sreenshot © Vulcan Productions)

“The Ivory Game” is a must-watch documentary report on the shocking consequences of the illegal ivory trade across the globe. A group of dedicated documentarians go undercover to reveal the black-market trade routes poached ivory travels from kill-site to sale. The film also sheds light on the role poachers and merchants play in the decimation of the African elephant. This sobering and informative documentary was produced in part by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Here’s where you can watch “The Ivory Game”:

  • Stream on Netflix
  • Check out the official trailer here.

A Plastic Ocean (2016)

A plastic ocean environmental documentaries must-watch
“A Plastic Ocean” attempts to shed light on a global environmental growing at an alarming rate. (Photo: Screenshot © A Plastic Ocean)

In a compilation of shocking and impressive images, this environmental documentary reveals the sheer extent of the growing problem of plastic in the ocean. The film serves as a reminder of the serious consequences our “single-use” culture of convenience consumption can have on the environment and why it’s immediately important to rethink how you consume.

Over a span of five years and in widespread locations around the globe, film crews captured sobering footage of the oceans’ plastic pollution. The documentary also presents current technologies and political solutions to the pollution problem and examines the potential for change on a worldwide scale.

The renowned British scientist and documentarian Sir David Attenborough (see “Our Planet” below) has called “A Plastic Ocean” “one of the most important films of our time”.

Here’s where to watchA Plastic Ocean“:

Read more: Microplastics in the Oceans: These 6 Surprising Things are Causing Massive Microplastic Pollution

Our Planet (2019)

Our Planet environmental documentaries must-watch films
“Our Planet” is an awe-inspiring environmental documentary you can’t miss. (Photo: Screenshot @ Our Planet (Netflix))

“Our Planet” is the only series recommendation included in this list – and all 8 episodes will leave you on the edge of your seat. The film crew made lengthy treks to some of the earth’s most remote locations – from the merciless frontier of global warming in the arctic to remote rivers and rainforests previously untouched by humans in the Amazon. The result: jaw-dropping images of the some of the world’s most pristine (and threatened) wonders.

Filmed using some of the industry’s newest technologies and techniques, “Our Planet” brings you up close and personal to nature at its finest with breathtaking shots of animals and landscapes from the likes of which you’ve never seen before. The documentary also brings to light the man-made threats to these natural wonders, such as the encroaching side-effects of global warming for a wide range of animals and their habitats. This truly spectacular documentary film series is presented by the well-known and award-winning BBC nature filmmaker Sir David Attenborough.

You can watch “Our Planet” here:

  • You can watch “Our Planet” on Netflix.
  • Check out the official trailer here.

Before the Flood (2016)

Leonardo DiCaprio has been an outspoken activist in the fight against climate change for years. In making his own documentary film “Before the Flood“, DiCaprio travelled around the world for two years interviewing politicians, scientists, businesspeople and other personalities from the likes of Barack Obama, Ban Ki-Moon, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and even Pope Francis. The result: An impressive yet sobering report on the causes and consequences of climate change and an appeal to the people to make a change.

Watch “Before the Flood” here:

“Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” (2015)

Must-watch films on responsible living consumption Minimalism Documentary
Expand your horizons: This documentary shows you how to do more for yourself and the environment with less. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Isaac Benhesed)

Put together by “The Minimalists” duo Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, this documentary examines various facets of the growing “minimalist” movement. The progressive approach to consumption fully embodies the saying “less is more” by promoting conscious relinquishment in order to make space for the essentials. As The Minimalists travel around the United States, they uncover different minimalist principles as well as the transformative ways of living those they meet have adopted.

Alongside interviews with architects, designers, musicians and businessmen, Fields and Nicodemus also share their own personal narratives of material want and fleeting content throughout their pursuit of happiness. Both lived through the corporate rat race, had comfortable pay-checks and were yet never without want. At some point they decided enough is enough and swapped their consumer lifestyle for one that focuses on simple living, making do with what you have and freeing up time and space for the more important things in life.

If you’re interested in becoming minimalist or already practice minimalist living, this documentary film selection is a great start.

Here’s where to watch “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”:

  • Stream on Netflix
  • Check out the official trailer here.

Utopia’s tip: Minimalist Wardrobe: Closet Clearing Tips and Tricks

Cowspiracy: The Sustainable Secret (2014)

Initially crowdfunded and later produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, this documentary covers the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and examine its overall contributing role towards climate change. The film spotlights various environmental concerns resulting from mass animal agriculture such as water use, deforestation and ocean dead zones.

Furthermore, the documentary, which is sometimes criticized for being one-sided, takes a look at policies put forth by environmental organizations in effort to curb the widespread consequences of mass farming. The same production team (Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn) went on to produce another documentary film in 2017 (“What the Health”).

Here’s how to watch “Cowspiracy”:

How to Change the World (2015)

Environmental Documentary must-watch film How to change the world movie
“How to Change the World” chronicles Greenpeace’s beginnings as a group of motivated activists on the frontlines. (Photo: Screenshot @ Madman Films "How to Change the World" Movie Trailer )

“How to Change the World” chronicles the previously untold story of the beginnings of what we know as the modern environmental movement. This documentary film from British writer-director Jerry Rothwell (known for “Deep Water”) incorporates dramatic previously unseen footage of a young group of Canadian environmental activists as they set out to put a stop to Richard Nixon’s nuclear bomb tests in Amchitka, Alaska in 1971. The film highlights the group’s leader, Robert Hunter, and his role in the creation of the organization we all know as Greenpeace.

Here’s how to watch “How to Change the World”:

2040 (2020)

What's Your 2040? Environmental documentary you should watch
The environmental documentary “2040” highlights achievements in the fight against climate change. (Photo: Screenshot © Whatsyour2040.com)

The Australian production “2040” takes us on a journey into the future: How do we want to live in the year 2040 – and what condition will our planet be in when that year rolls around? Contrary to the sobering tone of many popular environmental documentaries, the film attempts to provide an alternative take: “I think there’s room for a different story, a story that focuses on the solutions to some of these problems,” outlines Damon Gameau in the movie trailer. The award-winning director presents projects, technologies and individuals that give us reasons for hope for the future. The film spotlights the ideas and visions for the future of those who will live in it: Children six to eleven years of age from all around the world.

“2040” has only been released in select countries thus far. United States and Canada are up next in 2020.

  • Check out the official trailer here.
  • Check out the film’s official website here for information on releases in your country:”What’s Your 2040?”.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of must-watch documentaries!

Read more: 10 Must-Watch Environmental Documentaries

This article was translated from German to English by Evan Binford. You can view the original here: Diese 15 Dokus muss man gesehen haben.

** Links to retailers are partially affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.

Do you like this post?

Thank you very much for voting!