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Top 5 Sustainability Documentaries on Netflix

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

Our friend Lily Abel of The Infinite Balance has kindly shared with us her top 5 eye-opening documentaries, all of which are available to watch right now on Netflix. Scroll down to read her suggestions!

Netflix, the home of addictive series and films that you can binge watch in one sitting or use as procrastination. It has its limitations, but it also provides some of the most important and eye opening documentaries regarding sustainability and the current state of planet affairs.

Here are 5 documentaries I found the most interesting and informative and I hope you do too:

A Plastic Ocean

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I was lucky enough to visit a screening of this at home in the presence of one of the people who coordinated it, the screening was followed by a panel of questions, which was an inspiring experience.

This film, although not perhaps widely acknowledged, emphasises the devastating affect excess plastic consumption is having on our oceans. Vast spaces are suffocating under a plastic blanket, killing marine life. Not only does this documentary cover the severity of the damage to the oceans, but also to humans, especially those who live on remote islands that are becoming buried under plastic washed up from the ocean, contaminating drinking water and excreting chemicals that are causing and spreading disease. A Plastic Ocean has been structured so you can see the state of the plastic issue in our oceans currently, yet it highlights some of the progress that is indeed being made in regards to reducing plastic consumption through the use of recycling and other sustainable methods. This documentary  puts the plastic issue into perspective, whilst providing examples of how you can help resolve the issue and emphasises the positive changes that are being implemented.

The True Cost

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I have watched this just recently,  and it has really opened my eyes to the fast fashion industry. Already aware of some harmful consequences of fast fashion and the ethics behind big brands, this documentary covers every aspect of the issues caused by this industry. The realities of cheap labour are demonstrated here, with the devastating effects of the ‘big bosses’ who only care about getting their products on the shelves, blatantly ignoring the safety and well being of the workers. Ultimately this leads to disasters such as the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, 2016. This documentary takes you to the origins of your clothes, highlighting not only the human, but environmental cost. Although offering some insights to people making a stand against it, it does not provide enough information on how you can make a difference, for example, perhaps they could have included some brands that are making conscious changes to improve their ethics, nevertheless, it is definitely worth a watch.

What the Health

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This emphasises the connection between diet and disease, linking to the pharmaceutical industry and the dangerous affects it has on health. It looks into the origins of your food and how many diseases can be cured through simply changing your diet. Not only is this documentary food based, but looks into the money making schemes of the pharmaceutical industry and how hazardous it can be.


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This documentary is one of the most renowned, especially within the vegan sphere. The emphasis is on the damaging impact the meat, dairy and egg industry has on human health, the health of the planet and the lives of the animals. It looks into the treatment of the animals before, during and after slaughter, the horrific conditions of mass production and the huge environmental impacts consuming these products have on the planet. This one is key if you are looking to educate yourself on your diet and how you should (need!) to change it for the future of the planet, the animals and yourself.

Before the Flood

Directed by Leonardo Di Caprio, this was all over social media when it was first released, however the hype appears to have died down recently. This focuses on climate change –  what is happening and where, what is causing it, ignorance of governments and what we can do to help prevent it. The facts are astonishing and it makes you realise how interconnected the world is and why it is so so so important that we start making permanent lifestyle changes.

So, get on Netflix and begin (I would say it is definitely educational procrastination!). People need to start living more consciously and sustainably. The planet and everything on it needs us humans to sort our sh*t out!

Let me know what you think about them once you’ve watched them, I’d love to hear your opinions!

With Love, Lily Xx

About the Author: Lily Abel is currently studying History at the University of York. Alongside this she maintains The Infinite Balance, covering topics such as veganism and environmentalism and can also be found on Instagram.

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