6 Captivating Documentaries on Sustainable Consumption

May 14, 2023

Watching films centered around environmental and social issues is a great stepping stone to get acquainted with our most prominent global challenges. These six documentaries and docuseries address various topics such as animal agriculture, plastic pollution, consumerism, and more. Documentaries are not completely unbiased, so it is important to watch them with a critical lens. Nevertheless, they are accessible ways for people to be educated about issues they may not have been aware of before. 


1. Cowspiracy (2014)

Available on | Netflix, Prime Video, Roku
Duration | 1 hr 31 mins

This film educates viewers the colossal environmental impact of the meat industry. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of “deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry, is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean ‘dead zones,’ and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged.”

 Photo By Cowspiracy

2. Broken (2019)

Available on | Netflix
Duration | One hour per episode

Broken is an investigative docuseries about how negligence and deceit in the production and marketing of popular consumer items can result in harmful outcomes for the consumer. Each episode sheds light on different products, such as influencer-hyped makeup, vapes, disposable furniture, and plastic recycling.

Photo By Broken


3. A Plastic Ocean (2016)

Available on | Prime Video, Roku, VUDU, Vimeo, Apple TV 
Duration | 1hr 40 mins

A Plastic Ocean documents the newest science, proving how plastics that enter oceans break up into small particles that enter the food chain where they attract toxins and end up back in the bodies of marine animals and humans. This film documents the global effects of plastic pollution and highlights innovative solutions and ways for governments and individuals alike to contribute to rectifying this issue.

Photo By A Plastic Ocean 

4. Rotten (2019)

Available on | Netflix
Duration | One hour per episode

Rotten is a docuseries that dives into the global food industry and the corruption and waste behind the process of getting food to your dinner table. Featuring interviews with manufacturers, distributors, and others, this series “uncovers wrongdoing by corporations who control the food that we eat and shortcomings by governments who have the mandate to oversee or regulate the sources of these food.”

 Photo By Rotten

5. Public Trust (2020)

Available on | YouTube
Duration | 1 hr 38 mins

A film produced by Patagonia, Public Trust is about America’s system of public lands and the fight to protect them. It follows activists and American Indians trying to defend public lands from the sale and lease of these lands by powerful industries such oil, gas and mining. Even without the threats those interests pose to the environment and to local economies, the film argues for the democratic importance of conservation.

 Photo By Public Trust

6. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (2015)

Available on | Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play
Duration | 1hr 19mins

The authors of two best-selling books on minimalism travel across America to hear the stories of how people, from architects, designers, and musicians, to businessmen, authors, and families tackle the ongoing challenge that is consumerism. The film explores the tenets of the “minimalist” movement that pushes back and challenges consumerism and encourages people to live simpler, more meaningful lives.

Photo By Minimalism

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