10 Best Documentaries On Sustainability In 2024

best documentaries on sustainability
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The Sustainability movement started around 3 decades ago. But the concept of Sustainability is centuries old. An essay written by Thomas Malthus in 1798 helps surface the need for sustainability in the world because of the faster growth of population as compared to the resources. Later in this article we’re going to discuss how some best documentaries on sustainability too help in this regard. 

Actions in the direction of sustainability gained official status in 1969 when the term ‘Sustainable Development was introduced in a document by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The NEPA Act of 1969 defines sustainability as: “economic development that may have benefits for current and future generations without harming the planet’s resources or biological organisms.”

The sustainable development initiative has gained a lot of momentum in the last 3 decades with multiple documentaries on sustainability that focus on the adverse effects of human activities on four resources namely human, social, economic, and environmental resources so the world can change its ways for the better.

Best Documentaries on Sustainability

1. The True Cost
2. An Inconvenient Truth
3. More Than Honey
4. A Plastic Ocean
5. Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion
6. Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
7. Cowspiracy
8. Down To Earth With Zac Efron
9. Kiss the Ground
10. Living The Change: Inspiring Stories For A Sustainable Future

What Are Documentaries On Sustainability?

A documentary is a collection of real-life video snippets meant to inspire the spectators. Sustainability documentaries help the spectators embark on a historical, informative, and inspiring journey because they focus on the beauty and use of resources in production. 

Over the years many celebrities have produced and worked with sustainable documentary directors because visuals and celebrities when combined have an unmeasurable impact on the spectators leading to impactful changes in the environment.

Why Documentaries On Sustainability are Important?

Documentaries on sustainability are important because visuals are the strongest mode of bringing an impactful change around us. It’s been scientifically proven that humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text with a long-term impact on the mind and the heart. 

Therefore, sustainability documentaries can ignite the youth with passion and inspire the viewers to take steps that inspire sustainable progress on all fronts- fashion, food, water, plastic, minerals, and judiciously using every natural resource whether they come with an emotional value or with an expiration date. 

It isn’t humanly possible to understand the dynamics of sustainability in a day. That’s why you have documentaries on sustainability that act as quickies for you to grow your mind in the right direction. So grab your munchies and probably some tissues and a blanket for a comfortable chill watching these sustainability documentaries!

10 Best Documentaries On Sustainability You Can’t-Miss

1. The True Cost

IMDB Rating : 7.7 / 10

Where to watch : Amazon Prime

This documentary stars fashion designers like Stella McCartney and hits the spot bang on as it targets the unsustainable practices in the fashion industry and conveys to the fashion lovers and labels customers of the true cost of the apparel and accessories that they wear with a greenwashed conscience. 

True Cost targets at lowering the environmental, labor, and animal costs to produce trendy and fast fashion items. It aims to convey the cruelty of the fashion industry that thrives unsustainably at the expense of living creatures and society at large. Watch The True Cost on Amazon Prime to understand the faddish fashion.

2. An Inconvenient Truth

IMDB Rating : 7.4 / 10

Where to watch : Amazon Prime

This 2006 documentary with AI Gore is available on Amazon Prime. It sheds light on climate change and its impact. It’s an amalgamation of clips from his speeches that he has given multiple times throughout various cities. Through this documentary, Gore communicates about his own life while speaking about his experience of standing in the presidential race too. 

The most amusing aspect about this documentary is how so many of the facts listed in it came true way after its release. From the increase in major storms, and hurricanes, to the increase in death toll due in the next 25 years due to global warming. 

In this Oscar-winning documentary, Gore issues an urgent warning on what must be done to save the planet earth. He began curating these presentations in 1989 and these films use a Keynote presentation format, which Gore refers to as “the slide show”. He leaves people on a beautiful note by stating; “Each one of us is a cause of global warming, but each one of us can make choices to change that with the things we buy, the electricity we use, the cars we drive; we can make choices to bring our carbon emissions to zero. The solutions are in our hands, we just have to have the determination to make it happen”.

3. More Than Honey

IMDB Rating : 7.5 / 10

Where to watch : Amazon Prime

“An ecosystem that has the maximum amount of diversity is the richest.” and yet half the population around the world wouldn’t know how rapidly the honeybee population is declining. All breathing creatures deserve a fair chance at life. Honey is the sweetest form of sweet used in endless dishes and multiple cuisines across the globe. 

This Markus Imhoof direction closely observes the honeybee colonies in California, China, Australia, and Switzerland. Whole colonies getting decimated, the scientists predict that it might be too late before people realize the self-damage they are doing as without the bees, it would be humanly impossible to pollenize and grow fruits and vegetables at a rate matching the requirements of human beings. 

So everyone willing to grasp the importance of bees in our lives as well as the world, in general, ought to check this documentary out available on Amazon. 

4. A Plastic Ocean

IMDB Rating : 7.9 / 10

Where to watch : Amazon Prime

The name A Plastic Ocean gives us goosebumps! What does it mean? A sustainability documentary in its essence, this sustainability documentary sees Craig Leeson, a journalist, convince Tanya Streeter, a free diver, along with an international team of scientists to go for a research trip on plastic pollution in the oceans. 

This research takes place at twenty spots in the oceans around the world to observe the decadent conditions of water bodies because of excessive plastic. The documentary doesn’t conclude without providing real-time solutions that can be put to effect immediately. 

Just like how this journey simply begins with the search for the elusive blue whale but turns into a dark and factual piece of filmography, A Plastic Ocean can be your beginning point towards developing sustainability self-awareness. Watch it on Amazon Prime.

5. Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion

IMDB Rating : 7.6 / 10

Where to watch : Amazon Prime

The harsh truth- the world abides by the use and throw policy in every sense and it is this fact that Alex James, a cheesemaker and a musician, also a journalist intends to put under the ‘spotlight’. It’s no secret that fashion is one of the most waste-producing industries in the world. The toll fashion takes on the environment, animals, and humans are too huge a cost for the world to bear.  

Become a part of Alex’s journey and acknowledge the harsh reality of the fashion industry whose true origins lie in the high-temperature sweatshops of third-world countries but later gets adopted by the rich (fashion)houses and sold for prices that are bound to burn a hole in your pockets.

6. Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

IMDB Rating : 7.5 / 10

Where to watch : Amazon Prime

They say sustainable fashion is a myth. It is because the appetite of a customer can’t be calculated beforehand. This appetite is just as unmeasurable in a literal sense. Much like fashion, the food industry produces tonnes of waste every single day all around the world. 

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste reveals the heinous amount of food waste happening in the streets of America that lands up in landfills, the hub of greenhouse gas emissions. Apart from the enormous amount of greenhouse gas emissions, this food waste also leads to monetary waste plus human hunger. 

Popular chefs along with environmental activists have then talked about techniques converting this waste food into an energy source in multiple forms and how many businesses have put these energy converting techniques to good use. The documentary available on Amazon Prime is a must-watch for all the foodies who care for the ingredients as much as they care for the final product!

7. Cowspiracy

IMDB Rating : 7.5 / 10

Where to watch : Netflix

This 2014 production on Netflix talks about the animal agriculture industry and its environmental impacts. The documentary highlights the extreme amount of greenhouse gas production due to animal agriculture, tonnes of water consumption, and destruction of forests owning to it. 

“Food is at the core of everything.” So people must consume the right food that is in sync with their health and the environment’s health. Filmmaker Kip Anderson uncovers the dark truths about the animal agriculture industry as the leading cause of environmental destruction. 

Changing his habits one by one, saving energy and water, Anderson aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and in the process improve his health by changing his diet and convincing the world to do the same by making this heartrending but infotainment sustainability documentary.

8. Down To Earth With Zac Efron

IMDB Rating : 8 / 10

Where to watch : Netflix

The Zac Efron and Darin Olien starred Netflix web series “Down To Earth” revolves around Efron and his travels throughout the world, focusing on yawning topics like nature, green energy, and sustainable living practices. This show, however, doesn’t solely rely on gaping truths of sustainable living but also comes with its dose of thrill and extreme adventure. 

The story begins in Iceland where the duo learns about the country’s alternative energies and how they power themselves with renewable sources. Their next stop “the city of lights”, France, teaches them about the clean drinking initiative and how the country has access to it for FREE. 

Costa Rica showcases villages that procure their food and energy without leaving a negative, harmful impact on nature and a toxic city like London, turning itself around with green walls and new trends like “clean eating”. Part Travelogue, Part Eco-Warrior Series, this journey of awareness takes you on a path you surely wouldn’t have experienced.

9. Kiss the Ground

IMDB Rating : 8.2 / 10

Where to watch : Netflix

Have you ever heard of regenerative agriculture? A very viable solution to the apocalyptic climate changes happening, ‘Kiss The Ground’ has tried bringing this solution into the public eye. 

Woody Harrelson, a veteran Hollywood actor has taken a step to guide the gen-z youth in the right direction by starring in this sustainability documentary. Renowned personalities from various trades have come together in this documentary to give an insight into how our environmental problems are rooted in the ground and its soil to a huge extent. 

Moreover, the makers of Kiss The Ground have started an online initiative to help young minds research, create, and innovate in the regenerative agriculture field! Before you convince yourself to join this initiative, have a quick watch party with your buddies and check the documentary out on Netflix!

10. Living The Change: Inspiring Stories For A Sustainable Future

IMDB Rating : 6.9 / 10

Where to watch : YouTube

There’s no better way to inspire the people around us than by hearing real-life stories of people among us. Living The Change hopes to inspire millions of people watching the documentary by showing unconventional lifestyle choices that are sustainable and regenerative. The documentary has coveted various interviews with experts who explain how these unconventional choices like building forest gardens and compost toilets work out in real life. 

These lifestyle choices documented in Living The Change have a larger purpose of getting filmed as they plan to not just inform the young and coming generation but also initiate discussions for innovative and novel ideas! The easy, breezy, and yet effective changes make this gem worth watching directed by Jordan Osmond and Antoinette Wilson. Go check it out on YouTube!

Conclusion

We see superheroes fighting super world problems in the Marvel and DC comics. But the reality is different and so are the issues of this reality. You can get a whiff of the same by watching these documentaries on sustainability, reading sustainability blogs & books or listening to related podcasts. Many natural resources that are nature’s gift are on the brink of extinction. And so it’s high time that the superheroes of reality take actions that help the world build a sustainable present and a sustainable future. 

This curated list of documentaries on sustainability like The True Cost, An Inconvenient Truth, More Than Honey, A Plastic Ocean, Slowing Down Fast Fashion, Waste, Cowspiracy, Down to Earth with Zac Effron, Kiss the Ground and Living The Change is an attempt to spread awareness so that conscious steps can be taken in the right direction. Do post your comments below.

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