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Environmental Documentaries You Need To Watch

Environmental Documentaries You Need To Watch

There has been an explosion of environmental documentaries in recent years and thanks to services like iTunes and Netflix, they are readily available to all of us at the touch of a button. Environmental documentaries are an important medium for raising awareness and their impact can often be extremely effective, kick-starting social change and sometimes even convincing major corporations or governments to alter their policies.

The five listed below have moved us deeply, opened our eyes and spurred new action: 


1. Before The Flood

Presented by National Geographic, Before The Flood follows Leonardo DiCaprio (U.N. Messenger of Peace) on a journey around the world to document the impact of global warming. Meeting with Barack Obama, Elon Musk (Tesla) and Pope Francis, DiCaprio talks about potential solutions, and hopes to inspire world leaders to tackle climate change head on. Available on Netflix and iTunes.


Leonardo's speech at the end of the film, opened the 2014 U.N. Climate Summit and his haunting words stuck with us.

"Every week we’re seeing new and undeniable climate events, evidence that accelerated climate change is here right now. Droughts are intensifying. Our oceans are acidifying with methane plumes rising up from the ocean floor.

We are seeing extreme weather events and the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melting at unprecedented rates, decades ahead of scientific projections.

None of this is rhetoric and none of it is hysteria. It is fact."


2. A Plastic Ocean

Shot over 4 years, in more than 20 different locations, A Plastic Ocean follows world champion free-diver Tanya Streeter and journalist Craig Leeson as they investigate the devastating effects that plastic is having on our oceans and its inhabitants. Described by David Attenborough as “one of the most important films of our time”, A Plastic Ocean urges you to take immediate action for the sake of future generations. Available on Netflix and iTunes.


"We have to make our life better for our kid's children. Change is possible. It starts with us."


3. The True Cost

This 2015 documentary looks at the social, environmental and psychological effects of fast fashion. Following the collapse of the commercial building in Bangladesh that killed over 1,000 people, director Andrew Morgan set out to investigate the true cost of cheap clothing. Looking at the entire production line, from the lives of low-wage workers in developing countries, to the after-effects of garment production such as river and soil pollution, the True Cost is far from your typical fashion documentary. Available on Netflix and iTunes.



4. Chasing Coral

All over the world our coral reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate. In the last 30 years we’ve lost 50% of the world’s coral thanks to carbon emissions increasing the temperature of our seas. This documentary follows a team of divers, scientists and photographers as they work to build the world’s first ever time-lapse camera to capture the phenomenon of “coral-bleaching” around the globe. The footage they reveal is truly chilling and surprisingly moving as you realise you are witnessing the rapid death and decay of one of the world’s most valuable ecosystems. Available on Netflix.




5. DamNation

Funded by American clothing company Patagonia, DamNation looks at a complex variety of issues surrounding the dams situated around the United States. Once considered an incredible feat of engineering, many people are now campaigning to have obsolete dams removed to help recover fish stocks, restore rivers, improve recreational activities and preserve tribal customs. Available on iTunes.


“There are 75,000 dams over three feet high in the United States. That’s the equivalent of building one every day since Thomas Jefferson was President.” (Ed: 1801-1809)