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Image / Editorial

Documentaries to watch if you want to get serious about sustainability


by Geraldine Carton
29th Feb 2020
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We list the documentaries to watch if you’re interested in learning about sustainability; from fast fashion to food, to climate change, to water


Anyone else feeling the teeniest bit concerned for the state of planet earth right now? Yeah, us too.

With current worldwide weather conditions bewildering at best and life-destroying at worst; and horrific human atrocities coming to light at every turn, worldwide tensions are rising along with the seawater levels. Taking a look around us, it can feel like our planet has reached a real tipping point, and unless we shift things in a more positive direction, we could all be looking at a veritable free-fall (and not the kind that ends in a fun bouncy ball pit).

Covering everything from fast fashion (are our clothes really doing as much harm as people say?) to global warming (what will happen if those ice caps do completely melt?) and the whole issue of bees (yeah, what’s the story with the bees?!), these documentaries address the most pressing issues that should be keeping the world’s leaders awake at night, all whilst providing some clear instruction for what needs to be done to turn things around.

With the belief that knowledge is power, we hope that watching these programs might spur us all on to use our individual power to make positive, meaningful change. Whether it’s cutting back on the aul’ steak consumption, joining a climate change rally, or even just resisting the urge to swat a bee away over the summer; what each documentary highlights is that the future of this planet really is in our hands, and little hinges swing big doors.

Climate Change

Before The Flood (2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UGsRcxaSAI

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio meets with scientists, activists and world leaders to discuss the dangers of climate change and possible solutions.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (2017)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huX1bmfdkyA

Former American Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight to train up activists, influence international climate policy, and ultimately overcome the perils of climate change with human ingenuity and passion.

Years of Living Dangerously (2017)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brvhCnYvxQQ&ucbcb=1  

This docuseries sees Hollywood celebrities and respected journalists span the globe to explore the issues of climate change and cover intimate stories of human triumph and tragedy.

Chasing Ice (2012)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIZTMVNBjc4

James Balog and his team on the Extreme Ice Survey assemble a multiyear chronicle of the planet’s rapidly melting glaciers.

 

Food & Animals

Food Inc. (2008)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHJiNC_7wuw

This film examines how mammoth corporations have taken over all aspects of the food chain in the United States, and features unsettling footage shot inside large-scale animal processing plants.

Cowspiracy (2014)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV04zyfLyN4

Follow the shocking, yet humorous, journey of an aspiring environmentalist, as he daringly seeks to find the real solution to the most pressing environmental issues and true path to sustainability.

More Than Honey (2012)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NT05qEJxUk

Beekeepers, scientists and others discuss the world’s declining bee population and what it may mean for modern society.

Fashion

The True Cost (2015)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDx711ibD1M

This film explores the impact of fashion on people and the planet, largely seen from the perspective of those who make our clothes.

River Blue (2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfPMeMGbrj4

A harrowing documentary that sees international river conservationist, Mark Angelo, travel the globe to infiltrate one of the world’s most pollutive industries, fashion, and see how it is affecting global reserves.

Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion (2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RoOl3TgVO0

Here, former Blur bassist Alex James presents this critical look at our disposable approach to clothing and its enormous human and environmental cost.

Waste

Plastic Planet (2009)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7X-J1DhfjE

An up-close and personal view of the controversial and fascinating material that has found its way into every facet of our daily lives: plastic.

Waste Land (2010)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNlwh8vT2NU&t=61s

Located just outside Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, lies the world’s largest garbage landfill. Modern artist Vik Muniz works with the so-called catadores (the men and women who pick through the refuse), to create art out of the recycled materials.

A Plastic Ocean (2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zrn4-FfbXw

A documentary filmmaker’s journey as he explores the startling level to which the world’s oceans are now brimming with plastic waste.


Read more: The ugly side of fast fashion: This is the scary impact it’s having on our world

Read more: Is sustainability a class issue?

Read more: My struggles with sustainability and a meat-free life

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