Documentaries To Binge-watch On Netflix
With many of us in social isolation, it’s a perfect time to catch up on some entertaining but informative docs on Netflix. So switch your phone off, make a cup of tea and settle down to the best Netflix documentaries to binge watch.
How many of us have heard a friend punctuate a point with “I watched a documentary about it on Netflix”? It’s certainly true that in the last few years there has been an increase in documentaries we didn’t know we needed. However we have to admit that we can find some works on the streaming giant that range from interesting to mind-blowing. As we find ourselves spending more of our free time indoors, and the weather outside becoming less inviting, we’re already running out of series to watch. But no problem! You can spend more time watching Netflix on your couch without too much guilt because the platform hosts some of the best quality and most formative documentaries on the internet. Why not soak up the latest research and viewpoints on sustainable living? From fashion to food and everything in between, there’s something for every taste.
A Plastic Ocean
This documentary dismantles the way we’re thinking about plastic pollution in the oceans, unpacking how a plastic bottle in the Pacific can eventually end up on our plate. Journalist Craig Leeson teams up with diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers. The team travels to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans. In the centre of the Pacific Ocean gyre, researchers found more plastic than plankton. A Plastic Ocean documents the newest science, proving how plastics, once they enter the oceans, break up into small particles that enter the food chain where they attract toxins like a magnet. They’re stored in seafood’s fatty tissues and eventually consumed by us.
Tidying up with Marie Kondo
Would it even be a list on sustainability without Marie’s reassuring poise? If you haven’t watched it already, this series is not only fascinating: it is also calming. The queen of decluttering brings her simple but effective approach already described in her best-selling book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’. Everyone probably knows her joy-sparkling approach to a minimal wardrobe, but right now you might have actually the time to properly focus on doing it. (Please dispose of items responsibly).
This documentary series sees four episodes focusing on the mass production of products we consume on a daily basis. Through a narrative in which every single production step is analyzed, it tries to point out which decisions lead to a ‘broken’ system. Sometimes, details that appear insignificant are actual game-changers. The first episode, ‘Makeup Mayhem’, shows the complexity of the beauty industry. It poses questions from the ethical responsibility of influencers to the origin of your products. This documentary raises questions that will help the conscious buyer make the right decision, and will inform those who are starting to question their consumer habits.
The True Cost
This must-see documentary explores the impact of fast fashion on people and on the planet. It was funded thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and directed by Andrew Morgan in 2015. However it’s now more contemporary than ever. Where does your £5 t-shirt come from? Watch this and you will see. Starting from the tragic accident at the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, where over a thousand textile workers lost their lives, the fashion industry is analysed in each troubling aspect: production, pollution and workers living conditions. It’s empowering message details the ways we can help to make a real difference through our wardrobes.
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A Life On Our Planet
Is there anyone more wholesome than Sir David Attenborough? He is everything we need in 2020. This documentary serves as Attenborough’s witness statement for the natural world, after devoting 94 years to wildlife preservation. Attenborough has visited every continent on the globe, documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. Now, for the first time, he reflects upon both the defining moments of his life as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen. Colin Butfield, WWF’s Executive Producer for the film, said: “this film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time.”
Upon release, Rotten became an instant classic. This American documentary series is produced by Zero Point Zero and concentrates on the problems resulting from the process of supplying food. It’s a series rich in the number of episodes, each one focusing on one specific product; Lawyers, Guns and Honey, The Peanut Problem, The Avocado War, Troubled Water and Bitter Chocolate just to name a few. It’s addictive viewing.
KISS THE GROUND
The uplifting documentary “Kiss the Ground” makes the case that by regenerating the Earth’s soils, we can balance the climate, replenish the water supply, keep species off the extinction list and better feed the world. The documentary is refreshingly optimistic that by using existing solutions, humans can not just halt climate change but reverse some of its effects. There are small things we can do as individuals: eating a more plant-based diet, composting and applying the bigger principles to our own small gardens. But the big sell is regenerative agriculture, which offers an economically viable virtuous cycle of healthy soil, plants, water and skies, in stark contrast to the vicious cycle of industrial agriculture, which relies on additives, pesticides and government subsidies and depletes the land at unsustainable levels.
This award-winning film ‘A Documentary About the Important Things’, released in 2016, describes how the two authors, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, decided to reconsider their approach to the way they live and the way they consume. The film includes the point of view of neuroscientists, writers and renown experts, such as Leo Babauta, as well as Joshua Becker and Colin Beavan, debating on the virtues of having less.
As you probably understood from it’s self-explanatory title, this documentary analyzes the food supply chain right where it originates: farms. Farmers, experts and chef Rick Bayless examine the history that saw the movement for sustainable food on the rise and the future developments on the food supply chain in the modern age.
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER
This is the breakout documentary of the year. The subject is (your guessed it) an octopus in a kelp forest in Cape Town, South Africa. If no one saw this coming, this narrative is – as The Cut described it – “the love story that we need right now”. What makes ist so special? This refreshingly pure documentary sees free diver and filmmaker Craig Foster telling a unique story about his friendship and bond with the smartest animal on the planet. The film follows Foster as he battles career exhaustion and depression by going for daily swims in the frigid South African coast. He becomes fixated upon a common octopus, freediving daily to visit and observe her in her natural habitat. With each visit he is amazed by her ability to find clever ways to not only survive but to resiliently adapt to her environment.
Tiny House Nation
This aesthetically pleasing series isn’t explicitly on sustainable living, but the considerations that brought many to consider living in homes that are 500 square feet or smaller, are often connected to the desire for a minimalist lifestyle. These solutions are hardly family-friendly and not for everyone. Still, you’ll see how much of what you own you don’t actually need. Plus: it’s pure eye candy.
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