The best documentaries about sustainability to watch now

The best documentaries about sustainability to watch now

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Tuesday, 11th August 2020
Our Planet (Credit: Gemilang Dini Ar-Rasyid /Silverback/Netflix)
Our Planet (Credit: Gemilang Dini Ar-Rasyid /Silverback/Netflix)

Living sustainably and looking after the planet is crucial to the survival of our current and future generations.

Here are our top TV picks that will give you a new appreciation for the planet.

Down To Earth with Zac Efron


Zac Efron is a big advocate for sustainability and in his quest to discover how food, water and energy can be consumed in a more sustainable way, he is travelling around the world looking for “some very new perspectives on some very old problems.”

Efron pairs up with his friend and health and wellness expert Darin Olien and together they travel to Iceland, France, Costa Rica, Sardinia, Lima, Puerto Rico, London and Iquitos, talking to energy engineers, sustainability experts and doctors.

Efron and Olien visit a geothermal plant, discover the secrets to a long life, explore the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and take ayahuasca in the Amazon, all while learning about ways to live healthier.  

Before the Flood


Before the Flood sees Leonardo DiCaprio use his status and position as an environmental activist and U.N. Messenger of Peace to show viewers the first-hand effects of climate change.

DiCaprio meets scientists who are uncovering the truth about the dramatic changes occurring because of climate change and the political figures fighting for action to be taken.

However, not everybody is fighting to make a change.

DiCaprio also learns of a targeted disinformation campaign that confuses the public about the importance of the climate crisis, because there are those who seek to benefit from the public's ignorance. 

The documentary shows the steps we can take as individuals and as a society to preserve life on the planet and find alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power and to not partake in the current cycle of greed and destruction.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret


Described as the film that environmental organisations don’t want you to see, Cowspiracy follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he explores the destructive nature of animal agriculture.

Andersen discovers that animal agriculture is the number one cause of pollution, water consumption and deforestation and produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry, yet despite all of this, it is often left out of the conversation about environmental aggressors.

Whistle-blowers and watchdogs unveil how leaders in the environmental movement are often reluctant to talk about the problems with animal agriculture, even though it is a big driving force in ocean dead zones, topsoil erosion, species extinction and habitat loss.

As large scale farming has such a devastating impact on the planet, Andersen explores the different avenues that can lead to global sustainability as the population rises.

The True Cost

Amazon Prime

There is much more to clothes than consumers often see on the surface; The True Cost looks at the environmental, social and psychological impacts of the clothing industry.

With the advent of fast fashion and with clothes so cheap and easy to buy, interviews with environmentalists, factory owners and garment workers discuss the problems with production, such as low paid workers in developing countries making clothes in unsafe conditions and the river and soil pollution and pesticide contamination.

The film takes viewers across the world, into countries such as China, India, Bangladesh and Cambodia and the factories manufacturing the clothes that feed the rising clothing consumption, which has caused an increase in clothes ending up in landfills.

Interviews with famous names in fashion such as Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva provide alternatives for the future.

Our Planet


Narrated by the inimitable natural historian David Attenborough, Our Planet explores the natural beauty of the planet, with breathtaking footage of rarely seen animals across the forests, deserts and sea.

The documentary looks at the impact of climate change on the diversity of habitats across the world, from disappearing species, to the spread of diseases and shrinking habitats.

Our Planet acts as a wake-up call to viewers who need to change their behaviours towards the planet and gives an urgent message that we must act before it’s too late, because protecting the planet’s ecosystems are crucial to our survival.

It took over 600 crew members to create the series, which was filmed in 50 countries and took more than 3,500 days, all to help understand the challenges our world faces.


Amazon Prime

By the year 2040, the world will look very different, whether that is for better or for worse depends on how we look after it.

Director Damon Gameau explores what it could look like if people adopted the best solutions to help preserve the planet from now.

Gameau was inspired to make the film over worries about the type of Earth his 4-year-old daughter would inherit.

He presents a positive vision of what the future could look like, rather than the dystopian world that is often predicted.

Innovators from the areas of technology, economics, civil society, agriculture, education and sustainability show Gameau the various methods available right now, such as marine permaculture and decentralised renewable energy projects, that could help reverse global warming and look after the planet.

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Living sustainably and looking after the planet is crucial to the survival of our current and future generations.