For everything you want to know about environmental degradation, over-fishing, species extinction, climate change and how to help counter these, look no further!
Interested in all things eco and environmental? Re-watched all your favourite films and now after something a little more informative? Want to be a bit more informed about the climate crisis, or topics such as whaling, over-fishing or plastic pollution? We’ve got you covered!
Whether you’re wanting to change your eating habits to be more eco-friendly, or are interested in how quickly the world’s landscapes and nature are changing (for the worse) due to global warming, then there’s something for you on our best eco documentaries list!
Whilst working through the documentaries on streaming platforms, we were faced with some stunning, and at times enraging, facts about just how toxic humans have made our Earth and oceans. Through these eco documentaries, we’ve learnt about the environmental cost of the foods of the lifestyle choices we make and we’re hoping, after seeing them too, that you’ll join our mission and help combat plastic pollution, as well as addressing many other environmental issues, together!
Eco documentaries focusing on the state of our oceans and the plight of our marine life.
Interested in issues impacting our marine life, such as over-fishing, bottom-trawling, and the whaling and shark-finning industries? Ever wondered where the seafood you eat, really comes from? Worried about levels of plastic pollution in the ocean and wanting to know how you can help limit your contribution to this? Check out the following films.
If you’ve not yet seen the newly released hit Netflix eco doc, Seaspiracy, this one should definitely be top of your list! It gives a fascinating insight into the whaling, shark-finning and over-fishing problems the ocean faces, as well as shedding light on a whole host of other human-made problems our oceans and marine life are currently facing.
This documentary, through an emotional, yet facts and numbers-based dialogue, seeks to make a point about how ‘sustainable’ fishing is a practice hard to define, hard to trace and hard to pin down. Seaspiracy shows the unfortunate interconnectedness of a lot of the problems our oceans are faced with, and it is eye-opening - to say the least!
Sea of Shadows
Have you heard of the vaquita? No? There may be a very sad reason for that - something that this gripping National Geographic documentary dives into. The vaquita, are stunning creatures, native to the Gulf of California and are currently, though unfortunately not for long (as shown in this film), the smallest living species of cetacean.
Now on the brink of extinction, with an approximate population of approximately 10 left in the world, there’s never been a better time to watch Sea of Shadows to understand the plight of the vaquita! This is a must-watch environmental doc and gripping from start to finish. Watch the ongoing and seemingly never-ending battle between conservationists and cartel, in a race against time to stop the illegal fishing practices, of other fish native to the area, that are having a knock-on effect on the vaquitas’ survival!
My Octopus Teacher
This feel-good Academy Award-winning documentary follows South African filmmaker, Craig Foster, on his daily free-diving adventures around an underwater kelp forest, off the coast of Simon’s Town, SA. Foster, as the film’s title suggests, forms an interesting and almost spiritual connection with an octopus inhabiting this kelp forest.
Over the course of My Octopus Teacher, we watch as Foster connects with the octopus on a deeper level, and from his witnessing in awe the intelligence and instinctiveness of this beautiful creature, he reflects on aspects of his own life and the nature of his being. A quiet, calming documentary, with a really great message - that we should connect more with nature, and in doing so, maybe that would teach us to respect it more!
Environmental documentaries looking at the past, present and future of our Earth, and the effects of climate change.
This next category is for those interested in delving into the impact that humans have on the environment and on the slow decline of the health and happiness of our precious planet Earth. If you want to learn more about polluting human-made agricultural, big business or manufacturing industries and processes, these great eco documentaries will suit you! Give the following documentaries, a watch.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
One of the few good things to come out of 2020 was the release of David Attenborough’s, A Life on Our Planet. Unlike any of Attenborough’s works before it, the beloved natural historian and documentarian, gives his views and testimony from travelling the globe and documenting the life upon it, he tells viewers what he’s witnessed in his 90 plus years on our planet.
Talking about his life and the changes he’s seen in nature and wildlife during that time, all the way to his ideas on how we could combat climate change in the future, this documentary is a truly fascinating watch. A great lesson for us all to do our best for our planet, is given through this insightful documentary, suggesting how we can adapt our lifestyles, to be better to the Earth.
Before the Flood
This is a great documentary for those especially interested in, and outraged by, global warming, as Before the Flood is essentially a deep dive into the effects of climate change on different natural habitats across the globe. Leonardo DiCaprio travels to various regions, drastically altered by the human-made disaster of climate change, and speaks with other celebrities, government and prominent figures, who have previously spoken out about the climate crisis.
DiCaprio and director, Fisher Stevens, deep-dive (not literally) into these saddening, divisive, yet very real topics, on a personal and social level, bringing up the infuriating point of climate change denial and more, in this great, insightful watch.
Last, but definitely not least, is the 2019 documentary, 2040. What is great about this eco doc is that it sets out to be less ‘doomsday,’ about the state of our Earth and how we got where we are today, and tries to remedy this by offering solutions, for a better future.
In this inventive documentary, director and star, Damien Gameau, talks about what the world will be like in 2040, for his young daughter who will still inhabit this decreasingly healthy, decreasingly stable planet.
2040 is much more options and solution-focused than other documentaries, and is a great watch if you’re wanting to know what governments and big business could really do to help save our planet in the next 20 year period! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the current state of the world, check out 2040 to find out what potential solutions there are to our environmental situation, including renewable energy, overhauls of the current agricultural industries and more.
We hope you enjoy our selection, whether you opt for watching a calming documentary about the intelligence of octopi or an investigation into the lasting effects of climate change, there is a lot to learn and take away from our top eco documentary picks!
Written by Charlotte Pick