A Listicle, Because I Can: The Best Documentaries

These documentaries are better than your documentaries. These documentaries should be required viewing for all of us. This list is Sustainability 101. You’ll get some foundation in Triple Bottom Line and circular economics, and a lot of hope, but most of all you’ll get your eyes peeled wide open by the brokenness of this world at our hands. With the video proof, no one can say that these awesome evils have not been inflicted upon the planet and people around us. It is up to us to be responsible for our own behavior. Show these to someone who disagrees with you. If you disagree with me, please pick one and watch and I’ll return the favor by watching a documentary that you recommend.

  1. Time To Choose – This one is just fantastic. If you watch only one documentary, make it this one. We are at an inflection point in history and it is right now that we need to choose between continuing with business as usual, or dramatically changing the way we do everything in order to preserve a planet that will be able to support a growing human population for generations to come. This documentary covers the high level of the primary ways that humans are driving climate change through the implicit destructiveness of society as it is designed. You will be inspired to take action.

  2. Earth: The Operator’s Manual – Hear the facts and reason from a church-going Republican scientist. I promise that this is not a partisan issue.

  3. True Cost – Among the most disgusting behaviors that we’ve normalized in this country and whose ills we’ve exported to the rest of the world is consumerism. While the focus of this film is fashion (fast fashion, which I didn’t know was a thing), the message applies to all of the things we mindlessly buy without a thought to necessity. You will be inspired to find out what your money is purchasing the next time you get those clothing items on sale, and I bet you’ll make different choices.

  4. Consumed – This is NOT the movie about GMOs, but rather a deeper examination of the consumerism we’ve been sold.

  5. Minimalism – An answer to consumerism. A very well-told story. A very reasoned and reasonable approach. This word – minimalism – doesn’t mean that we have to live without any possessions and deprive ourselves of joy and necessities or anything of the sort. It’s about breaking away from the pile of things that control us, that we all amass, too often without any real awareness of its growth until we have to move it from one place to another, and bringing into our lives ONLY those things which satisfy a need or bring us joy. That might look different for all of us, but it won’t look like the basements and attics and closets and storage rooms full of boxes whose contents we can’t even recall after a few months of sitting. I know you have those rooms in your house!

  6. Real Value – Hallelujah! This is what sustainability is about. Triple Bottom Line is the winner here. You will hear it from conservative and liberal business owners themselves in this film: the right decisions for the planet, for your people and your customers, those are also the profitable decisions! A great watch for those who think that sustainability is just about being granola. It’s good business.

  7. Food Choices – I have watched every documentary that has been made about diet and nutrition (i.e. –  Forks Over Knives, PlantPure Nation, That Sugar Film, Fed Up, Cowspiracy, etc.)  and this one sums ALL of them up, with pretty much all of the same experts and, to top it off, a good amount of focus is given to the ecological damage of massive scale industrial agriculture. I eat a plant based diet and think everyone has a duty to consume less meat and dairy.

  8. Sustainable – You will appreciate farmers (and want to become one when you grow up) after watching this film. You’ll be hungry, too. This is a beautiful documentary about sustainable agriculture which, before the industrial agriculture shift that happened after WWII, was just called farming. Today’s food production methodology is broken. This is the fix.

  9. Years of Living Dangerously – WOW this one is depressing. This is a series that you show to people who think climate change isn’t a serious issue that we are the primary cause of or, worse, think it isn’t real. We are destroying ourselves and our home. If you already care about these issues as deeply as I do, I think it’s better not to watch. It may depress you to the point of believing that we’re already too far gone and that any of the actions you can take or inspire others to take are futile.

  10. 13TH – This documentary highlights the great modern myth of the “land of the free” and its roots in the 13th Amendment. The prison industrial complex is unsustainable. The private prison system is antithetical to all things liberty. 25% of the prison population on earth is in the United States. The land of the free has more people incarcerated than any of the nations that were included in Trump’s travel ban. We must be willing to examine the racism that is at the root of so many modern institutions and undo the harms. We cannot continue the lie of freedom while we sell people to corporations.

  11. How To Change The World – The origin story of Greenpeace. I don’t need to say any more.

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