As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, a great way to honour this important day is to learn about this amazing planet we call home. That has never been easier to do thanks to streaming and the number of incredible documentary movies and mini-series available. These outstanding productions will educate, inspire, outrage, and (hopefully) motivate. Granted it’s not an outdoorsy activity, but it is a safe way to respect Earth Day from the comfort of your own home.
Not that it’s going to be easy because some of these documentaries are hard (read: upsetting) to watch. They will have you in awe of Earth’s beauty and wonder one minute and heartbroken the next by the challenges it faces and abuse it continues to endure.
So, sit back, put your feet up and prepare to be swept away by these great Earth Day documentaries to binge. We’ve put together a well-rounded collection of documentaries representing the full spectrum of eco-education so read the brief descriptions (thanks to IMDB) and decide where you want to begin.
- Absurd! Planet (2020). A funny science series that offers an inside look into the lives of the planet’s most intriguing animals, with narration provided by a cast of quirky animal creatures, as well as Mother Nature herself.
- A Plastic Ocean (2016). Journalist Craig Leeson teams up with diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans.
- Before the Flood (2016). A look at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do to prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet.
- Blackfish (2013). A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.
- Brave Blue World (2019). Brave Blue World is a documentary that paints an optimistic picture of how humanity is adopting new technologies and innovations to re-think how water is managed.
- Chasing Ice (2012). Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic as he deploys time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers.
- Climate Change: The Facts (2019). David Attenborough takes a stark look at the facts surrounding climate change in today’s world, detailing the dangers we are already having to deal with and future threats, but also the possibilities for prevention and radical political, social and cultural change.
- David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020). One man has seen more of the natural world than any other. This unique feature documentary is his witness statement.
- Food, Inc. (2008). An unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry.
- Honeyland (2019). The last female bee-hunter in Europe must save the bees and return the natural balance in Honeyland, when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood.
- Hostile Planet (2019). A look at the world’s harshest landscapes and the animals that have adapted to live there.
- How To Change The World (2015). In 1971, a group of friends sail into a nuclear test zone, and their protest captures the world’s imagination. Using never before seen archive that brings their extraordinary world to life, How To Change The World is the story of the pioneers who founded Greenpeace and defined the modern green movement.
- How to Let Go of The World and Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change (2016). Documentarian Josh Fox (“Gasland”) travels the globe to meet with global climate change “warriors” who are committed to reversing the tide of global warming. Funny and tragic, inspiring and enlightening, the film examines the intricately woven forces that threaten the stability of the planet and the lives of its inhabitants.
- I Am Greta (2020). The documentary follows Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate activist from Sweden, on her international crusade to get people to listen to scientists about the world’s environmental problems.
- Kiss the Ground (2020). A revolutionary group of activists, scientists, farmers, and politicians band together in a global movement of “Regenerative Agriculture” that could balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world.
- Jane Goodall: The Hope (2020). As the 60th anniversary of her arrival to the chimpanzee kingdom in Gombe approaches, Dr. Jane Goodall spends time with her family in Tanzania and returns to her wild Eden.
- March of the Penguins (2005). In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family.
- March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step (2017). A young penguin, driven by his instinct, embarks on his first major trip to an unknown destination.
- Mission Blue (2014). Feature documentary about legendary oceanographer, marine biologist, environmentalist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle , and her campaign to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries.
- Planet Earth (2006). Emmy Award-winning, 11 episodes, five years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition.
- Planet Earth II (2016). Wildlife documentary series with David Attenborough, beginning with a look at the remote islands which offer sanctuary to some of the planet’s rarest creatures, to the beauty of cities, which are home to humans, and animals.
- Rotten: Seasons 1 & 2 (2018-2019). Rotten dives deep into the food production underworld to expose the corruption, waste and real dangers behind your everyday eating habits.
- Seaspiracy (2021). Passionate about ocean life, a filmmaker sets out to document the harm that humans do to marine species – and uncovers alarming global corruption.
- She Walks with Apes (2020). Three women who went into the jungles of Africa and Borneo to live with great apes.
- The Devil We Know (2018). A group of citizens in West Virginia challenges a powerful corporation to be more environmentally responsible.
- The Great Global Cleanup (2020). To mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, ZAC EFRON & Earth Day Network, are joining forces to produce a LIVE show inspiring the world to clean up our planet. With one billion people taking part in this global clean up between now and April 22nd 2020, in 192 countries, the aim is to collect a hundred billion pieces of trash world wide.
- The Ivory Game (2016). Wildlife activists in take on poachers in an effort to end illegal ivory trade in Africa.
- There’s Something in the Water (2019). The injustices and injuries caused by environmental racism in her home province, in this urgent documentary on Indigenous and African Nova Scotian women fighting to protect their communities, their land, and their futures.
- Tomorrow (2015). The world”s climate is changing. Instead of showing the worst that can happen, this documentary focuses on the people suggesting solutions and their actions.
- Years of Living Dangerously (2014-2016). From the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy to the upheaval caused by drought in the Middle East, this groundbreaking documentary event series provides first-hand reports on those affected by, and seeking solutions to, climate change.
Regardless which of these titles you watch, you’ll notice humans are either the hero or the villain. You can decide which one you want to be.
Have you watched any of these Earth Day documentaries to binge? Are there any that we missed that should be included? Let us know in the comments below.
Stay safe and be a hero.