Get smarter whilst lazing on the couch. These documentaries are a great place to start: enlightening, shocking and inspiring all at once.
The True Cost
I’m yet to watch this film without shedding a tear. The True Cost brings to light some shocking facts about the fashion industry that beg the question: who really pays the price for our clothes? This documentary looks at everything from environmental impact, to labour rights abuses in developing countries, to how genetically modified cotton is related to cancer incidence and suicide. It illustrates how the Western world’s demand for cheap, disposable fashion is destroying the planet and lives. When this film came out in 2015, it caused shock waves around the world, and people are still talking about it — it’s a game changer for fashion.
Available on Netflix.
Before The Flood
When Leo speaks, we listen. And so he made this film; both a political statement and desperate call to arms. As a United Nations Messenger of Peace, the Academy Award-winning actor travels to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand. He speaks with the Pope, activists in India, scientists in Greenland, and President Obama. And he urges us to think about how we’re impacting our climate. DiCaprio was determined and focused on releasing this film before the US election, and it sends a powerful message to all of us that the future of our planet is a collective human responsibility.
Available for free on BBC.
How might your life be better with less? This documentary explores the life of a minimalist, looking at what we think makes us happy, in comparison to what actually does. How? By talking to the experts of course. Joshua and Ryan take you into the personal lives of those who already live with less, and look at how they find meaning in life. Get ready to be inspired and make your life lighter.
Available on Netflix.
Plastic Paradise is American journalist and filmmaker Angela Sun’s journey to uncover the phenomenon of the Great Pacific garbage patch. Through encounters with scientists, researchers and volunteers, she shows us that the problem — our reliance on, and consumption of, plastic — is more insidious than we think.
More Than Honey
Swiss documentary More than Honey charts the alarming rate of deaths of bee colonies around the world — from Europe, to Australia, to China. It examines the possible reasons for the deaths — a combination of parasites, viruses, pesticides and stress.
Food, Inc. focuses on American industrial food production. The filmmakers explore how supermarkets and multinational companies control food systems, with the aim of growing everything “faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper”. The impact of this on our health and the environment will be sure to shock you.
Earthlings takes an unflinching look at our treatment of animals used for food, fashion, science and entertainment. The film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, with haunting music by Moby. Powerful, graphic and provocative, it’s guaranteed to change the way you view your consumer choices and even humanity itself.