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8 Documentaries you need to see in 2021

It’s 2021, if you haven’t yet educated yourself on the climate crisis, veganism or sustainability, the time is now…

Life on our Planet

Life on our Planet is one of David Attenborough’s greatest works. See him reflect on his life, the history of humanity’s life on earth, and grieve the loss of places and species that have been driven to extinction. In his 93rd year on the planet, he seeks to leave a legacy by offering a vision for the future.

You can watch this documentary on Netflix, linked here.

The Minimalists: Less is Now

Longtime friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known together as ‘The Minimalists’, inform audiences about the power in letting go of material goods and prioritising personal journeys. Audiences that are familiar with their content will know their rags to riches story, and some have criticised the documentary for being an echo of their previous work. I think if you are a new fan of the duo, this documentary will be educational and worth a watch.

This documentary has gained new exposure by featuring on Netflix, you can watch it here.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

Cowspiracy is almost a rite of passage for sustainability buffs everywhere. For many, watching this documentary was a turning point. Some have even adopted a vegan lifestyle after their viewing experience, and most viewers, if not all, have had their world view transformed. It could be hard to watch; it informs viewers on the realities of factory farming, how it decimates the planet’s natural resources, and why the crisis has been ignored.

Again, Cowspiracy is also available on Netflix, here.

Chasing Ice

A huge moment in director Jeff Orlowski’s career, Chasing Ice is an enlightening documentary which chronicles the rate of rapid meltdown the planet’s glacier landscape has suffered over the years. By deploying time-lapse cameras with years of footage, viewers are given striking picture evidence of our foreboding climate crisis. Orlowski’s film has been screened in 172 countries, as well as at the White House and the United Nations.

Though not a Netflix Original, this 2012 documentary is now available on Netflix, here.

Chasing Coral

This Netflix Original documentary, the latest in a series of documentaries by Jeff Orlowski, follows the degeneration of biodiversity on our ocean sea bed; diving deep to undercover the reasons behind our dying coral reefs, and the detriment to all the species that used to inhabit them. Experts estimate that over 80% of our oceans remain undiscovered, so to learn more about the effect our climate crisis has on the planet’s oceans is a compelling angle to explore, and one that Orlowski does well.

A Netflix Original film released in 2017, Chasing Coral is available to watch globally on Netflix now.

The True Cost

This utterly heartbreaking documentary is one that should be watched by everyone. The True Cost investigates and reflects on ‘the true cost’ of fast fashion, and who really pays the price. Garment and factory workers in the economic south suffer tremendously under unacceptable and oftentimes dangerous working conditions, as well as receiving little to no wage, all in aide of fast fashion companies’ pursuit of profit. This film illuminates the importance of social sustainability in a world that predominately shines a light solely on environmental-focused stories. If a standard of equality amongst people is not met globally, we as a society cannot be sustainable.

Not available on Netflix, but it is available to stream on their website.

How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change

This feature-length documentary by Josh Fox premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016. Fox goes to 12 countries to investigate climate change and its consequences, his quest is rooted in showing the world the realities of climate change and environmental destruction, while also showing people taking action. Compelling and driven, this film does not try to offer false hope of an 11th hour save, it argues that without action, our climate crisis will be more than a problem that knocks on our door, it will blow it open.

Again, this film is not available on Netflix, in fact, it’s free to watch on YouTube here.

Kiss the Ground

In this eco-educational documentary, activists, scientists, farmers and politicians turn to regenerative agriculture to save the planet’s topsoil. The film’s purpose to inform and educate its viewers is clear, it features celebrity speakers and narrators, including Woody Harrelson and Ian Somerhalder, and it articulates the complex science behind regenerative agriculture with ease. By focusing on a specific subject matter, viewers are privy to a world of expertise and become well-versed enough to educate their peers long after the credits roll. This makes Kiss the Ground one of the many documentaries in this list of recommendations to achieve the feat of leaving a lasting impact.

Like many on this list, Kiss the Ground made it onto Netflix, link here.

Even if you watch only one of these documentaries, we at Livetree would love to hear about your opinions! Feel free to reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter or in the comment section down below.

Let’s get a conversation going about saving this planet!


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