6 Must-See Environmental Documentaries On Sustainability - Ecobuy

We have come to a crucial moment for the fate of the planet and now more than ever we must learn the causes and effects of climate change in order to act and avoid irreversible damage. No better way to do that than watching some environmental documentaries.

Environmental issues can be a pretty hard topic to eviscerate, though. That’s why we selected the youngest five environmental documentaries that, according to us, simplify the theme to the best. They maintain the right amount of seriousness, honesty, and urgency, keeping even pickiest spectator’s attention until the end. They broadcast a right mix of expert’s knowledge that will prepare you for facing climate action with energy, hope, and positivity.

1. David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (2020) – Netflix

 environmental documentaries life on our planet

Everyone has been talking about this environmental documentary since it came out on Netflix, and we understand why. The author, David Attenborough, was born, even though you can’t tell, 93 years ago. Since then he studied natural sciences and spent his life wandering around our planet. He visited continents, discovering the natural world and witnessing it’s devastating changes, year by year. No one better than him can explain earth.  All the documentaries he wrote and directed, prove it. In this one, the American documentarist, retracing his life stages and events, shows the impact that humans had and has on nature presenting tangible examples and numbers.

The author talks about climate change with urgency. He also presents us with a pathway: a way to repair the mistakes with pragmatic solutions. David succeeds in transmitting his sincere hope for the future to the audience, and this is what makes the movie so unique. He inspires everyone to be a better version of themselves, passing on the belief that each of us has the power to make a change because if we act now, we can yet put it right! And if you are into docuseries, on Netflix, there’s also the must-watch “Our Planet”(2019) from the same author.

2. 2040 (2019) – Youtube Premium / Google Play / Amazon Prime Video

2040 is another environmental documentary we loved for the positive vibes it emanates. Worth watching even just for the visual impact, for the editing, for the special effects, for the incredible images, and the stop motions scenes that make the movie extremely educational, informative and playful at the same time.  2040’s award-winning director Damon Gameau, structured the documentary as a visual letter to his four years old daughter and embarks on a journey to explore how, by the year 2040, our future could improve, if we would simply shift into the mainstream, solutions already available to us, such as regenerative agriculture, and other approaches and remedies that he discusses with innovators and change makers in different fields.

Damon, like David, looks at the future with optimism and sweetness and provides a positive perspective that motivates the audience to take action. Because efforts, according to him, will not be wasted. This is definitely the type of documentary that we would love to see in schools!

3. War On Waste (2017 – 2018) – YouTube

environmental documentaries war on waste

When it comes to learning about the social and environmental impact of fashion and clothing production, I can highly recommend these two environmental documentaries. Everyone must watch The True Cost (2015) by Andrew Morgan. This super-popular eye-opening documentary pulled back the curtain on the untold stories behind the people who make our clothing.  Asking everyone to consider who pays the price for our cheap clothing. Although we highly recommend everyone to watch it, “The True Cost” was realised five years ago. For this reason, we decided to put on the list a younger production that also talks about fashion impact: War On Waste.

War On Waste is an Australian documentary television series. It’s filmed in multiple locations across the country. The focus is on the effects and solutions of material waste in the land down under. In episode three, published on YouTube, the presenter Craig Reucassel examines our obsession for fast fashion. In particular, how this obsession is producing an overwhelming amount of excesses and textile scraps that are invading landfills and incinerators contributing to a big part of global pollution. Worth watching to understand one of the leading causes of climate change easily! Moreover, if you, like us, want to see a more responsible fashion industry, we recommend watching – always on YouTube – “Luxury; Behindthe mirror of high-end fashion, DW The documentary” (2019), and “The next black” (2014).

4. Ice On Fire (2019) – Youtube Premium / Google Play / Amazon Prime Video

environmental documentaries ice on fire

A good reason to watch it? It is produced and narrated by Leonardo Di Caprio who was also featured in “Before The Flood” (2016) by National Geographic, another excellent documentary that discusses climate change.

Ice On Fire, directed by Leila Conners, explores a pretty tough topic which is the decrease in the biodiversity caused by carbon emissions. The film emphasised the importance of finding solutions aimed at reducing carbon in the atmosphere and global temperature rise. In particular, they talk about traditional renewable energy sources and new ones like tidal energy and about methods created to sequester CO2 such as biochar, marine snow or bionic leaves, as the best hopes for mitigating climate change. Confused? We are pretty sure Leonardo will explain all these technical things better than we do, so go and watch it!


5. Down To Earth (2020) – Netflix

environmental documentaries down to earth

If you are a docuseries nerd, this is the right one for you. Even better if you were a huge fan of High School Musical. Namely, Down To Earth stars Zac Efron. He travels around France, Puerto Rico, London, Iceland, Costa Rica, Peruand Sardinia to experience sustainable living practices.

Maybe not our favourite of all environmental documentaries, but fun. It’s light enough to be watched until the final episode and is pretty educative at the end. Each episode is a journey in a specific country or city. In episode 3, Zac and his mate visit an Eco Village in Costa Rica. While, in episode Seven, they end up in chaotic London to check out its pollution – reduction effort. If you watch it, you will learn something new for sure!

6. Others: Chasing Coral (2017); Cowspiracy (2014) and Minimalism (2015)

environmental documentaries chasing coral

We selected a few other older environmental documentaries that discuss very specific topics concerning climate change. The first one is “Cowspiracy: the sustainable secret” (2014) on Netflix and Amazon Prime, a must watch to understand the most significant problems of climate change: the intensive livestock farming and conventional agricultural systems.

Minimalism (2015) on Netflix, explores, instead, how contemporary society’s consumption hysteria is ruining our lives and how buying less, buying better and embracing a minimalist philosophy can be life-changing.

Last but not least, “Chasing Coral” (2017) on Netflix and Amazon Prime. For all the people that are particularly sensitive when it comes to ocean biodiversity. This incredible film took more than three years to shoot. It is the result of more than 500 hours of under water footage. Besides, it supports more than 500 people invarious locations around the world. An intense effort to discover why coral reefs around the world are vanishing.