Want to learn more about our plastic pollution problem but don’t enjoy reading articles and books on the matter? Prefer to learn through watching films and videos? We’ve come to your rescue. Here are some educational documentaries and short films (under 10 minutes) about plastic pollution that will help you understand all sides of the problem, and will inspire you to commit to a plastic-free life.
Full-length documentary films
This 2016 documentary about plastic polluting our oceans, was shot in more than 20 locations over a four-year period and features a journalist, a free diver and a team of international scientists who educate viewers on the causes and consequences of plastic pollution. If you’re an empath, this film may bring on the tears, particularly when viewing the images of suffering marine animals (make sure to have a handkerchief on you!). While the film may bring on the waterworks, it doesn’t leave you in despair. It offers plenty of solutions so you can take direct action soon after watching it.
A Plastic Ocean is currently available to watch on Netflix. You can also watch the trailer below or rent/purchase the film here.
Related Post: 20 Steps to Plastic-Free Living
This 75-minute 2009 documentary film examines the bottled water industry and its impact on human health and the environment. It reveals a multitude of problems: how much oil is dug up and used to create the disposable plastic packaging, the lack of ethics of some bottled water manufacturers, and the battles that communities are involved in to protect their water sources from profit-seeking corporations. Since one million plastic bottles are produced each minute and a big percentage isn’t recycled, we hope this film changes the way you see bottled water and hopefully encourages you to give it up for good.
Watch the Tapped trailer below. To rent/buy the film click here.
Winner of multiple awards, this 2013 independent documentary film follows journalist and filmmaker Angela Sun’s journey to see the ocean’s plastic phenomenon known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Sun interviews many experts, scientists, researchers and volunteers along the way, to learn the causes and effects of this floating plastic landfill in the Pacific Ocean. While the film focusses on the ginormous marine pile of plastic, it also explores how the world got here as well as the history of plastic: how plastic is made, how it has invaded our lives and how we got to become so dependent on it. It took Sun three years to get the relevant approvals to visit the patch but her persistence paid off – this film tells the story of plastic pollution brilliantly.
Watch the trailer below or rent/purchase the film here.
This film prompts you to ask yourself – could you go a day without plastic? In this 2010 doco, Jeb Berrier embarks on an investigative adventure of the world of plastic and discovers how difficult it is to navigate modern life without this man-made material. Jam-packed full of information, Bag It runs through the plastic lifecycle, from the fossil fuels and harmful chemicals used in its processing, through to its impact on human health and the environment. It does so wonderfully, by weaving comedy and serious information together in a way that leaves viewers engaged, educated and entertained. This is a light-hearted environmental film that even non-environmentalists will enjoy.
View the film’s official trailer below or rent/purchase the doco here.
Wang Jiuliang’s award-winning documentary “Plastic China” about the plastic waste industry in China, is a moving film which tracks the lives of two families who make ends meet by processing imported plastic. Revealing the horrifying impacts of plastic on human health and the environment, the film is saddening, yet deeply touching. This doco provides real insight into the implications of the trade in foreign recyclables such as plastics, and how the plastics waste business affects the lives of those at the very bottom of the industry.
Watch the trailer below or you can purchase/rent the film here.
6. From the Waste Up – Life Without Plastic
This entertaining and uplifting doco film by Taina Uitto was released in 2014 and follows the lives of individuals (including couples and families) who agree to live a life without plastic. The participants are given a set of rules for the plastic challenge: remove plastic from their homes, refuse plastics, collect any plastic they do consume, and share the plastic challenge with others. The result is a thought-provoking film that inspires through the real-life stories of the people involved as they navigate through the issues of consumerism, convenience and plastic waste.
Watch the From the Waste Up trailer below or rent purchase here.
“Plastic should be a high-value material… [It] should be in products that last a long time, and at the end of the life, you recycle it. To take oil or natural gas that took millions of years to produce and then to make a disposable product that last minutes or seconds, and then to just discard it–I think that’s not a good way of using this resource. (Robert Haley)” ? Susan Freinkel author of
Don’t have time to watch full-length docos? These short films will quickly get you up to speed.
This ominously-narrated information-packed 3D animated short film shares the consequences of our obsession with plastic. In the time it takes to make a mug of instant coffee, it is able to educate viewers on the heavy subject matter in a way that is easy to understand, explores the negative impacts of our plastic consumption and offers solutions to reduce our reliance on the material.
You can watch the short film here:
8. The Story of Bottled Water
This eight-minute faced-paced film on bottled water has proved popular with viewers – attracting over 5.4 million times on YouTube. The film explores the clever marketing tactics and scare campaigns about tap water, that bottled water companies use to convince us to pay for a product that is essentially free and encourages us to rethink our purchase of it.
You can watch the popular film below:
Loved this post? Want to reduce plastic’s stranglehold on your life? Make sure to check out our post: 22 Steps Closer to Zero Waste Living: Disposable Items to Stop Buying Right Now
Keen to watch more environmental docos? Check out our comprehensive list here: Must-See Green Films: 8 of the Best Environmental Documentaries
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