Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not watch a few of the best environmental documentaries ever?
By Lora O’Brien
We live in a world where virtual entertainment is at the tip of our fingertips. Personally, while I love to binge-watch a good boxset as much as the next person (hello, Motherland), I also like to spend my time learning. I do adore a good documentary that opens my eyes to the state of the world, and ways in which we can help. Knowledge is power, after all.
The best environmental documentaries can be truly life-changing. But we need to be careful! Since the sustainable living movement is rapidly growing, greenwashing is at an all-time high. I mean, did you even know that one of the most-watched eco-docs of all time, An Inconvenient Truth, was proven by a British court to have made at least nine major false claims? YIPES! We need to be careful with what we are told and what we are led to believe.
That’s why were were grateful when sustainable retailer Ecovibe has compiled a list, having analysed IMDB data, inclusive of audience rating and viewing data, to reveal the UK’s top-rated eco-documentaries.
Below, we share their best eco documentaries to help inspire you to think bigger, do better, and really take care of the planet we live on. (And if you’re interested in more great films, check out these ethical fashion documentaries!)
The Best Environmental Documentaries Ever
Million of years ago, incredible forces ripped apart the Earth’s crust, creating the seven continents of the world. Each one has its own distinct climate, terrain and wildlife. Seven Worlds, One Planet takes viewers on a trip across all seven.
From the colourful paradise of South America to the scorching heat of Africa, this documentary highlights each continent in turn, revealing how life there has been shaped over the years.
This majestic journey around the world is a must-see for everyone. With more than just jaw-dropping landscapes and spectacular wildlife, you’ll have your eyes opened to the world you thought you knew.
It’s about: How life was formed on Earth
IMDB Rating: 9.4/10
Watch because: The filmmaker’s capture incredible wildlife imagery that really must be seen.
Sir David Attenborough’s original BBC series ‘Our Planet’ is still incredibly popular. If like me, you’re from the UK then you will have likely grown up watching Attenborough documentaries.
Sir David narrates this eight-part series that is filmed in 50 countries and covers everything from the North Pole and rainforests to coastal seas and grasslands. The imagery is as stunning as any Attenborough documentary is renowned for. This series is a brilliant dive into the wonders of the natural world.
It’s about: The incredible creatures that inhabit this planet with us
IMDB Rating: 9.3/10
Watch because: If you love David Attenborough, you’ll love to binge-watch this eight-part series! The series took 600 crew members four years to complete.
Narrated by actor Woody Harrelson, Kiss the Ground is one of the best environmental documentaries, ever! It’s about how the climate crisis can be solved. The answer is pretty simple: through the soil.
It’s a little more in-depth than that, of course. But the film makes a solid case for the healing power of soil, arguing that its capacity to sequester carbon could be the key we need to reverse climate change.
The documentary focuses on the US farming industry, and points out how mass food production methods are detrimental to topsoil. It provides logical and eloquently explained solutions to help combat this damage through sustainable, organic and regenerative agriculture. Such growing methods work in harmony with nature, as opposed to working against it.
It’s about: The importance of organic agriculture for protecting the planet.
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
Watch because: Kiss the Ground is a positive watch that will teach you stuff about the importance of soil ecosystems you probably didn’t know before.
Blue Planet 2 is a follow up to the 2001 award-winning show “The Blue Planet,” and is another fabulous documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
This is one of the best environmental documentaries for those who wish to explore the world’s vast oceans. It beautifully captures animals and other living organisms in their natural habitat. The documentary takes viewers into the ocean to witness first-hand what life is like underwater. From tropical seas to the harsher waters of the Arctic, the makers use modern filming equipment and techniques to really highlight areas of the planet humans have never seen before.
It’s about: What life is really like for creatures who live in the water.
IMDB Rating: 9.3/10
Watch because: You will have never seen the ocean as up close and personal before now – its as mesmerizing as it is utterly fascinating.
Made by the same team who also made What The Health, this powerful documentary follows filmmaker Ali Tabrizi as he travels the world looking for answers on the fishing industry.
Shining a light on many alarming and not widely known truths about commercial fishing, Seaspiracy examines the harm that humans are inflicting upon our vulnerable seas. From plastic and fishing equipment polluting the waters, to illegal fishing and devastating hunting practices, this is one of the best best environmental documentaries for showing us exactly how we are destroying the seas.
What Tabrizi uncovers will be a shock to all those who care about the wonders of our ocean world, as well as the future our planet faces.
It’s about: How fish consumption is having a terrible impact on the whole planet
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
Watch because: It’s an eye-opener for anyone still consuming fish. It also looks at why farmed fishing isn’t a sustainable alternative, as many think.
If you’ve survived until now without watching Cowspiracy, then you’ll want to be sure to add this one to your ‘must watch’ list. The hard-hitting film is one of the best environmental documentaries for those against factory farming and the animal agriculture industry. It’s a real eye-opener to everyone who watches it.
Many cite this documentary as one of the reasons they went vegan. That’s not surprising, since the documentary focuses on the barbaric conditions of mass-produced animals who spend the entirety of their existence suffering.
It is easy to not pay attention to where our food comes from, but Cowspiracy connects us back to the deadly price animals pay so we can have meat on our plate.
It’s about: The ecological impact of animal farming
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
Watch because: Whether you’re vegan or not, this thought-provoking documentary will make you evaluate your everyday lifestyle choices, and hopefully evoke change.
If you’re looking to watch one of the best environmental documentaries that will really open your eyes, Virunga is it. The film is focused on the brave rangers risking their lives to protect Virunga National Park and the world’s last mountain gorillas who live there.
Shockingly, over 200 park rangers have been killed whilst protecting Virunga, highlighting just how dangerous their heroic actions are. And it’s not just poachers who are a threat to the gorillas – it’s oil companies, politicians, and rebel groups, too.
The documentary actually covers myriad topics. These include investigative journalism, politics, corruption and the ongoing civil war happening in the Congo. But at the end of the day, the focus in the conservation work of these incredible park rangers.
It’s about: The heroes who risk their lives for gorilla conservation.
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
Watch because: Virunga offers a heart-breaking glimpse into how these gorillas are vulnerable due to greed. Many never knew about the brave people devoting their lives to defending the gorillas before Virunga. The film is so beautifully made, it won loads of international awards, too.
What are some of the best environmental documentaries in your opinion? Did we miss any here? Let us know in the comments, below.