One amazing way to educate yourself about the environment is by watching documentaries
You don’t necessarily need to read a ton of books or get a degree in Environmental Science to learn about the issues our planet is facing. Here are some of the best documentaries you can watch to help you learn about the environment, climate change and how you can help.
1. There’s Something in the Water
This documentary is probably the most important one on this list as it examines the critical issue of environmental injustice. Environmental injustice, specifically environmental racism, includes actions like placing factories, pipelines, landfills, and other pollutants near the housing and communities of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour). Set in Nova Scotia, There’s Something in the Water looks at the challenges facing Indigenous and black communities in Eastern Canada as they discuss how their water sources have been poisoned by landfills and other pollutants, and the resulting health consequences.
This documentary is one of my absolute favourites. It explores the challenges and benefits of adopting a vegan diet. For six weeks, three meat and cheese lovers in New York try to eat vegan. They also get educated about the meat and dairy industries and learn about the environmental and health-related benefits of cutting back on meat products. It’s not only an informative documentary, but it’s also interesting to see how the participants struggle and then learn to love their new diets. Spoiler alert: some of the participants even continue on as vegans or vegetarians after the experiment ends.
Rotten is a relatively new (2018) documentary series on Netflix about the food industry. Each episode features a different type of food—from avocados to sugar and chocolate—and discusses the environmental challenges of food production as well as the politics behind it. This series explores where our food actually comes from, who benefits from its sales, and who doesn’t. It talks about the struggles that small farmers have in comparison with large corporations, and the ethics of how manufacturing certain foods negatively affects workers and consumers.
Artifishal is a documentary by Patagonia Films that shows the fight for the future of wild fish and their environments. It talks about how wild salmon are endangered—and may soon be extinct—and what that means for other animals in their ecosystems. It also explores the threats of fish hatcheries and farms. While most of us know about the negative effects that red meat production has on the environment, many assume that eating more fish is more helpful, but that isn’t always the case.
5. A Plastic Ocean
A Plastic Ocean is an incredible documentary that dives (pun intended) into the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. Filmmaker Craig Leeson, champion freediver Tanya Steeter, and a group of scientists examine the causes of plastic pollution as well as share some helpful solutions. It’s a very eye-opening documentary tackling just how severely plastic is impacting our environment and getting into our food chains.
6. Chasing Ice
Chasing Ice is a film that follows environmental photographer James Balog who used to be skeptical about climate change. It documents his adventures deploying time-lapse cameras to capture some of the world’s rapidly melting glaciers. Balog and his team travel through dangerous Arctic landscapes to bring this important story to the world.
7. Chasing Coral
Coral is an extremely important part of ocean ecosystems. In fact, coral reefs are often referred to as "the rainforests of the sea" because they contain so much biodiversity—so many animals and plants thrive in coral reefs. Produced by the same people who created Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral follows a team of scientists, researchers, and filmmakers on a quest to raise awareness and figure out why so many coral reefs are dying and becoming bleached.
This is a beautiful documentary showing us what the year 2040 could look like if we start focusing on climate solutions now. The film talks about everything from renewable energy, solar power, wind energy, creating healthy soil, and even marine permaculture. This is a wonderful film to watch especially if you feel overwhelmed by all the problems the earth is facing today and need some hope.