Earth Day 2021: 10 Environmental Documentaries to Binge-Watch

Earth Day 2021: 10 Environmental Documentaries to Binge-Watch

Do you find yourself with a little more free time now thanks to lockdown-prompted alternative work arrangements? Are you tired of watching silly shows on TV and looking for a meaningful way to pass the time? Since Earth Day is fast approaching and in the hopes of awakening the eco-warrior in you, we’ve prepared just the right playlist so you can binge-watch some really interesting and informative environmental documentaries instead.

So, sit back, press play, and be prepared to see the bigger picture of the world around you.

1. Seaspiracy

This 90-minute Netflix documentary exposes the questionable practices of the multi-billion dollar commercial fishing industry and its effects on the world’s oceans. Directed by Ali Tabrizi whose passion for marine life started way back in his childhood days, the film probes deeper into the chain of destruction affecting our oceans, including overfishing for tuna and mass killing of dolphins. Sea creatures are sought after for their meat for human consumption while some are captured to be displayed at marine parks. Blood shrimp peeling factories are even linked to modern day slavery.

The message of the film is that the seafood industry is causing the destruction of marine life at such a rapid rate that “the oceans will be emptied of fish in the next 27 years” and for economic reasons, authorities are complicit in the destruction. What this film ultimately concludes is that there is no such thing as sustainable fishing anywhere on our planet and that for us to save marine life, we should stop eating fish altogether and choose to eat plant-based instead.

2. Kiss the Ground

Kiss the Ground is a film that features farmers, scientists, activists, and politicians as they explore the idea of regenerative agriculture and share ideas on how land can be managed responsibly by limiting the use of nitrogen fertilisers, reducing tilling, and prioritising plant and animal diversity. Soil is the key in balancing our climate, the film asserts.

Through the sustainable practices of regenerative farming, soil can be made healthier and it will yield more crops, lessen water and air pollution, and restore diversity in our flora and fauna. As the LA Times puts it, “the ground might be Earth’s climate change savior.”

This film is hopeful that we can do something to reverse the effects of climate change. It is also supported by solid Media, Stewardship, and Farmland Programs to encourage and educate more people to become soil advocates. Kiss the Ground is currently streaming on Netflix.

3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

A Life on our Planet is an 83-minute biographical documentary on Netflix featuring the world-renowned naturalist and Emmy-winning narrator David Attenborough. In the film, Attenborough shares with us how he has witnessed the decline of our planet during his 60-year career. He takes us to different places around the world – from Ukraine to Africa – to show us how man has caused the destruction of our planet. The film echoes the sentiment of many climate change activists; we face a grim future if we don’t act now. Inaction will ultimately lead to our planet being warmer by four degrees Celsius, “rendering large parts of the Earth uninhabitable and leaving millions of people homeless.”

What’s great about this film is that Attenborough presents us with solutions for a way forward. He supports poverty alleviation, quality health care for all, and education. He also recommends the use of renewable energy, implementing no-fish zones, innovation in our farming practices, and putting a stop to deforestation so that we can restore biodiversity in our environment.

A life on our planet film

4. My Octopus Teacher

This Netflix film is quite unusual as it focuses on the friendship of a man, Craig Foster, and his cephalopod friend whom he meets underwater in a kelp forest near his home in Cape Town, South Africa. A “dazzling technical achievement” writes a film critic for The Hollywood Reporter, Craig Foster was able to document the octopus’ daily life – how it played, hunted food, and defended itself against sharks until it eventually died after mating. Interacting with this sea creature has led Foster to join the Sea Change Project so that he can do his part in protecting our seas and marine life. Ultimately, what this cinematic film shows us is that engaging with the natural world is powerfully moving.

5. Public Trust: The Fight for America’s Public Lands

Produced by Patagonia Films, this documentary exposes the challenges faced by locals regarding America’s public lands; 640 million acres of public lands in America are now under threat for the sake of development. The film centers on three essential areas – the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. These areas, including the ecosystems that thrive in them, are all at risk due to extractive industries. This film will help you understand how big corporations and politics work in collusion to exploit natural resources in the name of profit. More importantly, this film is a call to action to make our voices heard regarding the protection and conservation of public lands.

6. Our Planet

Be amazed at the wonders of Planet Earth in this innovative and revolutionary Netflix documentary series. You will get to see breathtaking places inaccessible to most men, thanks to the wonders of cutting-edge technology. But behind the dazzling imagery and mesmerizing natural wonders presented in each episode is a sad truth: they are fragile and in danger of being wiped out due to man’s careless regard for nature. You’ll realize that “the predator is us” to quote The New York Times. This film will definitely awaken the eco-warrior in you as you would want to avoid what they predicted would happen in the future wherein nature will take back what was once theirs and humans will just be a part of our planet’s history.

Our Planet Netflix Environmental Documentary Series

7. Brave Blue World

This environmental documentary tackles issues regarding the global water crisis. It opens our eyes to problems around water scarcity and sanitation. As many of us know, water is crucial for good health and if people don’t have access to clean water, it leads to sickness and death. This cannot be allowed to happen which is why the Brave Blue World film crew traveled all over the world to find solutions and show innovative ways to manage our water resources. As Matt Damon, co-founder of the organisation behind the film, says, “How lucky are we that we get to be the ones that solve this.” And with a hopeful tone, this film shows us how we can save our planet, one drop of water at a time.

8. Chasing Coral

Living corals amaze us with their wonderful colors, and even more so for their crucial part in ensuring biodiversity in our oceans. They provide habitat and shelter for many marine creatures. They also protect our coastlines from erosion and storms. But sadly, Chasing Coral shows us that there is a phenomenon that’s killing our coral reefs at a rapid rate. “Coral bleaching is permanently altering fish communities.” It triggers changes in the biodiversity in our oceans and seas. It would also mean disaster for humans. That’s why the goal of this film is to encourage people to take action to protect our reefs and secure our future.

Chasing Coral environmental documentary

9. There’s Something in the Water

Directors Ellen Page and Ian Daniel present a compelling story addressing the issue relating to the waters in Nova Scotia, Canada. In Shelburne, there’s a toxic landfill that’s linked to increasing rates of cancer in the population. Then there’s a paper mill in Pictou Landing releasing toxic waste into the local harbour, and in Stewiacke, a big energy company wants to create a brine storage near the Shubenacadie River which poses a threat to the sea creatures that live there.

The film show how these issues are severely affecting black and poor communities and their access to clean potable water. The worst part is that the locals don’t have the support of the Canadian government in stopping the poisoning of their waters. But activists won’t stop sounding the alarm until their voices are heard and this documentary is a powerful tool in their fight to protect Canadian waters from toxic waste.

10. Islands of Faith

Bringing the subject of climate change closer to home, this Netflix documentary takes us to different provinces in Indonesia and how people in each community use their faith and religion as a lens in understanding the climate change issue. Islands of Faith provides us with a different perspective while making us realize the important role of religion in bringing people together and reminding them about their stewardship over nature. Its powerful message is this: We are caretakers of our environment. Doing good deeds for the preservation of nature is an act of faith.

And there you have it, 10 illuminating documentaries that you can binge-watch with a purpose. We hope that they will inspire you to care for our planet a little bit more. Have a fave environmental documentary that’s not on the list? Feel free to leave details in the comments below.

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Cover image via Seaspiracy.

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