The Best Environmental Documentaries on Netflix

Nothing beats a good Netflix binge. It’s basically therapeutic. Curled up under a blanket all day. Only emerging from your nest to refill the snack bowl.

It’s even better when your binge includes incredible, life-transforming documentaries that make you see the world differently.

So, I have combined the two and created the ultimate environmental documentary Netflix binge list. 

Whether you’re looking to educate yourself on environmental issues or you’re looking for suggestions for a friend who needs an environmental wake-up call, these documentaries are sure to change the way you think about the planet.

 

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Plastic Paradise

While many people have heard of the island of garbage in the Pacific Ocean at some point, few have faced the real scope and devastating effects of the problem.

Plastic Paradise is the documentary that ties most into the Waste Less Thinking cause and the one that inspired me to reduce my waste and use of disposable plastics.

This eye-opening documentary exposes the consequences that disposable plastics have on our planet, our oceans, and our health.

The film brings important issues to light and explain how we are all part of the problem, so we all need to be part of the solution. The chilling images leave you feeling disturbed, but hopefully, motivated to make a change.

 

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DamNation

DamNation highlights the changing attitudes towards dams in recent years and effects that dams have on our rivers and fish populations.

Over the course of three years, film makers explore the effects of dams and argue that hydroelectric power is more harmful to the environment than many people believe.

The film is a must watch for anyone who is concerned with the health of our waterways and marine life.

 

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Cowspiracy

One of my favorite films on Netflix, Cowspiracy is a shocking yet entertaining documentary about animal agriculture and its relationship with major environmental groups.

As a vegetarian, I have long been aware of the environmental damage caused by the meat industry. What surprised me is that many people are unaware of these facts, especially major environmental activists.

Filmmakers argue that while environmental organizations encourage us to be mindful about our recycling, waste, and water use, they are completely ignoring one of the most environmentally harmful practices on the planet, large-scale factory farming of animals.

Although the meat industry is not something I focus on here Waste Less Thinking, I believe that the biggest contribution that an individual can make towards improving environmental conditions is giving up animal products. If you don’t understand why I think that, Cowspiracy is a great place to start.

One of the interviewees in the film sums it up quite nicely, stating, “you can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period.”

 

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Vanishing of the Bees

Vanishing of the Bees is a fascinating documentary narrated by Ellen Page. The film exposes the devastating effects of colony collapse disorder and explores potential causes.

Although research on this topic has advanced since the film’s 2009 release (we now know that neonicitinoid pesticides are most certainly the cause of the CCD, while the film suggests other causes) it is still relevant, informative, and provides crucial insight into a devastating global issue.

As someone who is terrified by the sight of a bee, I would have never thought I could be so concerned with the health of bee populations in the world, but CCD is a fascinating topic that I think everyone should take some time to learn about.

 

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More Than Honey

More Than Honey is another film that documents colony collapse disorder.

The film discusses declining bee populations and puts into perspective what our world would look like without bees.

The movie, which received a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, gets most of its props for the visual brilliance of the cinematography.

The equipment used to make the film included mini helicopters and high-speed cameras to catch bees in flight, and tiny cameras that offer views from inside the bee hives.

 

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Chasing Ice

Another film that is praised for its cinematography is Chasing Ice. The stunning and shocking images of disappearing glaciers, crystal clear water rushing through melting glaciers, and the largest calving event ever captured on film will leave you breathless.

The narration is entertaining and informative and does a great job of reinforcing what the images are already telling you.

It is an incredible documentary that mixes art and science in the most beautiful way.

 

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Food Inc.

Although Food Inc. does not necessarily focus on the environmental impacts of the modern food industry, it uncovers many issues within an industry that we all know is harmful to the environment in its current state.

The film, which received an Academy Award nomination, is a great start for anyone who isn’t very educated on the food system and wants to know more about its effects on the environment.

 

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The True Cost

As someone who bought into the fast fashion industry and used to look for a new outfit for every occasion, The True Cost was the rude awakening that I needed to inspire me to cut down on pointless consumption of cheap fashion products.

The True Cost explores the impact the fashion industry has on the planet and the people who work in it. The film suggests that although the price of clothing has significantly declined in recent years, the true cost of clothing has actually risen greatly, without consumers realizing it.

This documentary will change the way you shop and the way you view cheap products.

 

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GMO OMG

Although GMO OMG focuses more on the health effects of GMOs, the film does discuss environmental effects and is very information on a topic that many people are still pretty confused about.

The film is about one man’s quest to find out all he can about genetically modified organisms and their effect on human and environmental health.

This is a great starting point for anyone interested in learning more about a fairly recent environmental concern.

Personally, I could watch the film just for the music and the adorable kids.

 

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Pump

Pump is a 2014 documentary that explores the history of petroleum-based fuel consumption, the geopolitics involved with petroleum, and alternative energy options.

The film illustrates an interesting future for America, where there are more options at the pump.

A must watch for anyone who wants to better understand America’s addiction to fuel and how we can end it.

 

Have you watched an environmental documentary on Netflix that you think others should see? Leave a comment below and I may add it to the list.

 

Consume Consciously! 

  • justin moll

    Hi Kristin

    Thanks for blogging about all this cool stuff, throughout your website. Its very refreshing to see others taking actions however small to reduce our impact and live better. The documentaries are a great and easy way for people to get information and start thinking for themselves so they can make decisions. There is a great quote out there by Alice Hoffman, “Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.” That really sums up my relation with what I have learned about our world over the last few years.

    Cheers,

    Justin

    • Kristin

      That’s a great quote! I will probably include it in a future post. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Your Biggest Fan

    Any new environmental documentaries?!

    Also hurry up and blog more!

  • Christi Miltz

    Mission Blue is incredible! Thanks for the good ideas!

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