10 Inspiring Environmental Documentaries to Watch


In a world where our actions as a species continue to impose significant pressures on our environment, the role of education in promoting sustainability has never been more critical. Documentaries, with their vivid storytelling and potent visuals, have emerged as a powerful tool in this arena. By shining a light on the most pressing environmental issues of our time, they inspire individuals to take action and contribute to change. This blog post will guide you through ten inspiring environmental documentaries that educate, enlighten, and motivate us to make a difference.

The Role of Documentaries in Educating and Inspiring Action

Documentaries play a crucial role in raising public awareness about various issues, and environmental documentaries are no different. They bring the realities of the environmental crisis to the forefront, revealing the harsh truths that are often hidden from our daily lives. More than just providing information, they spur viewers into action by demonstrating the dire consequences of inaction and showing the potential benefits of positive change.

Documentaries have the power to present complex environmental issues in an accessible and engaging format. By combining scientific data with personal stories, they make abstract problems tangible and relatable. This capacity to educate and stir emotion is what makes documentaries a potent tool in the fight against environmental degradation.

Brief Overview of the Content of the Post

In this post, we delve into ten outstanding environmental documentaries. These films span a range of issues—from climate change and deforestation to overconsumption and pollution—providing a comprehensive view of the challenges we face. Each documentary chosen not only illuminates a specific issue but also propels us to rethink our relationship with nature.

Highlight the Variety of Topics Covered by Selected Documentaries

The environmental crisis is multifaceted, and so is the selection of documentaries we present in this post. From films exploring the complex web of global food production to those delving into the intricacies of renewable energy, these documentaries cover a broad spectrum of topics. They expose the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, explore the inequities of resource distribution, and underscore the urgent need for sustainable practices.

Each film carries a unique perspective and message, reflecting the diversity of the environmental discourse. So whether you’re an environmental science student, an aspiring green entrepreneur, or simply a curious viewer, you’re sure to find a documentary that resonates with you and deepens your understanding of the environmental challenges we face.

Stay with us as we embark on this journey through powerful narratives and compelling visuals that inspire change and fuel hope for a sustainable future.

1 - “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006)

As a watershed moment in the global environmental movement, the 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” remains a crucial piece of viewing for anyone interested in understanding the urgency of the climate crisis. The film, which follows former US Vice President Al Gore on his mission to educate the world about climate change, transformed a largely academic conversation into a mainstream concern. It serves as a persuasive call to action, urging viewers to recognize and respond to the impending environmental catastrophe.

an inconvenient truth

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

“An Inconvenient Truth” centers on Al Gore’s compelling presentation, woven with personal anecdotes and clear, scientific data. It addresses a range of critical environmental concerns, most notably global warming, which Gore describes as a “planetary emergency.”

The documentary navigates the intricacies of the greenhouse effect, the melting of polar ice caps, and the alarming increase in CO2 levels. It illuminates the disturbing trends and patterns in our global climate, shedding light on the calamitous future that awaits if humanity continues on its current path. Through a blend of alarming data and evocative imagery, the film lays bare the devastating impact of human activities on our planet.

Notable Achievements and Impact

“An Inconvenient Truth” had a profound impact on the public’s perception of climate change. It played a significant role in popularizing the issue, making it more accessible and immediate for ordinary viewers. The documentary won two Academy Awards in 2007: Best Documentary Feature and Best Original Song.

Perhaps its greatest achievement, though, is the role it played in driving tangible action on climate change. It influenced political policies and helped propel green technologies and renewable energy into the public consciousness. The film’s influence reached classrooms worldwide, shaping a generation’s understanding of the planet’s fragility and the importance of sustainability.

Reasons for Recommendation

We recommend “An Inconvenient Truth” for its potent ability to demystify complex climate science and present it in a manner that the average viewer can grasp. The film’s urgency is as relevant today as it was upon its release. The data and patterns Gore explores have only grown more pressing, making the documentary an essential watch for understanding the gravity of the climate crisis.

Moreover, “An Inconvenient Truth” serves as a reminder of the power of individual action. Gore’s dedication to environmental advocacy underscores the notion that each of us can make a difference. Whether you’re an environmental enthusiast or a newcomer to the topic, this film will provide a solid grounding in climate change knowledge and inspire you to contribute to the solution.

2 - “The 11th Hour” (2007)

Produced and narrated by Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio, “The 11th Hour” is a powerful documentary that delves into the severe environmental crises our planet is currently grappling with. By incorporating insights from over 50 politicians, scientists, and environmental activists, the film provides a comprehensive look at the environmental challenges we face and explores potential solutions that could help mitigate these issues.

the 11th hour

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

“The 11th Hour” presents an eye-opening account of the state of the global environment, emphasizing that we are, quite literally, in the eleventh hour of preventing irreversible damage to our planet. The film examines the wide-ranging environmental crises confronting us, including global warming, deforestation, mass species extinction, and depletion of the oceans’ habitats.

Key themes include the interconnectedness of all life on earth, humanity’s disconnection from the natural world, and the critical need for a swift transition to sustainable practices. The film, while unflinching in its portrayal of the grim reality we face, also sheds light on hope and possibility, highlighting the innovative solutions and alternative practices that could save our world.

Notable Achievements and Impact

Though “The 11th Hour” did not receive as many accolades as other environmental documentaries, it was still critically acclaimed for its comprehensive and thought-provoking take on the global environmental crisis. Its ability to convey complex scientific facts about the environment in a simple, understandable way was particularly applauded.

The film’s greatest impact lies in its capacity to motivate individuals to take action for the environment. As DiCaprio states in the documentary, “The good news is that renewable energy is not only achievable but good economic policy.” This positive message, coupled with the wide reach provided by DiCaprio’s popularity, played a crucial role in raising public awareness about environmental issues and the need for sustainability.

Reasons for Recommendation

“The 11th Hour” is recommended for its holistic and informative portrayal of the current environmental crisis. It is an engaging and educational watch for those who wish to better understand the dire situation we find ourselves in and explore potential solutions.

Moreover, the documentary emphasizes individual responsibility and the power of human agency in affecting change. It compels us to question our relationship with nature and our role in its preservation. For those looking to be informed, inspired, and provoked into action, “The 11th Hour” is an absolute must-watch.

3 - “Chasing Ice” (2012)

“Chasing Ice” is a remarkable environmental documentary that showcases the devastating effects of climate change on our planet’s glaciers. This stunning visual narrative follows the work of acclaimed National Geographic photographer James Balog and his dedicated team as they embark on the Extreme Ice Survey.

chasing ice

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

In “Chasing Ice,” James Balog and his team use time-lapse cameras to capture the rapid recession of glaciers over several years, providing undeniable evidence of the alarming rate at which the Earth’s glaciers are disappearing due to climate change. This visually striking and heart-wrenching documentary captures the stark reality of climate change in a way that is both comprehensible and profoundly moving to its audience.

The primary theme of “Chasing Ice” is the pressing issue of climate change and the drastic and irreversible effects it has on the Earth’s glaciers. The documentary also explores themes of perseverance and commitment to a cause, demonstrated by Balog and his team’s unyielding efforts to document and highlight the urgency of the world’s changing climate.

Notable Achievements and Impact

“Chasing Ice” was well-received critically and had a significant impact upon release. It won the award for Best Documentary from the International Press Academy Satellite Awards and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

Beyond its critical acclaim, the documentary’s most significant impact lies in its visual evidence of climate change. The time-lapse footage of the rapidly receding glaciers served as a wake-up call to many, underscoring the urgency of taking action against global warming.

Reasons for Recommendation

“Chasing Ice” comes highly recommended for its stunning visual representation of the harsh realities of climate change. The combination of impressive cinematography and compelling scientific evidence makes it a powerful educational tool.

Moreover, James Balog’s determination and commitment to bringing the issue of climate change to the forefront serve as an inspiration for viewers to take individual action. The documentary’s dramatic and undeniable depiction of our rapidly changing planet compels us to take the issue of global warming seriously and consider our role in combating it.

If you’re seeking a visually stunning, factually-grounded, and emotionally compelling documentary on climate change, “ Chasing Ice” is a must-watch.

4 - “Before the Flood” (2016)

“Before the Flood” is a compelling documentary that explores the impact of climate change on our environment and what society can do to prevent its detrimental effects. The documentary features Leonardo DiCaprio, an ardent environmentalist, on a journey to understand the complexities of climate change.

before the flood

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

“Before the Flood,” produced by National Geographic, follows Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels around the globe to witness the effects of climate change firsthand. He speaks with influential figures, including world leaders, scientists, and local residents, to understand the scope of the issue and explore possible solutions.

The film examines several themes. It highlights the critical role of government and society in climate change mitigation, explores the political and economic barriers to climate action, and presents opportunities for sustainable development. It also underscores the need for individual responsibility and awareness of our personal environmental impact.

Notable Achievements and Impact

“Before the Flood” was met with positive reviews for its enlightening and comprehensive coverage of climate change issues. It received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Nature Documentary and won the Hollywood Documentary Award.

The film had a significant impact on its audience, igniting conversations about climate change and sustainability worldwide. It was viewed by millions globally, making it one of the most-watched documentaries on climate change.

Reasons for Recommendation

“Before the Flood” is recommended for its comprehensive exploration of the complexities of climate change. DiCaprio’s position as a popular public figure brings a unique perspective to the documentary, making it accessible and engaging for a broad audience.

The film does an excellent job of connecting the global issue of climate change with personal choices, reminding us that every individual has a role in combating climate change. It provides practical solutions and invites viewers to make a positive impact.

For those interested in understanding the intricacies of climate change and the importance of sustainability, “Before the Flood” is an insightful and inspiring watch.

5 - “The Cove” (2009)

“The Cove” is a provocative documentary that delves into the gruesome and often hidden world of dolphin hunting. The film strikes a balance between being an eco-thriller and a plea for the protection of marine life.

the cove

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

“The Cove” exposes the tragic annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan. Led by Ric O’Barry, former dolphin trainer turned activist, the film crew covertly records the disturbing activities in a hidden cove.

The documentary explores themes such as animal cruelty, marine conservation, and the impact of human activities on marine life. It highlights the importance of transparency and international intervention to address such brutal practices.

Notable Achievements and Impact

“The Cove” won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010 and received numerous other accolades. It raised significant public awareness and outcry about the Taiji dolphin hunt.

Since its release, the documentary has catalyzed international efforts to end the hunt and has led to substantial changes. While the fight for dolphin conservation continues, “The Cove” has undeniably played a critical role in bringing these issues to the forefront.

Reasons for Recommendation

“The Cove” is recommended for its compelling narrative, thrilling undercover operations, and significant social impact. It offers a grim yet essential look into the inhumane treatment of dolphins, raising much-needed awareness about the broader issue of marine conservation.

The film’s emotional and graphic portrayal may be distressing for some viewers, but it remains a powerful advocate for the protection of marine life. By providing a stark look at the often-overlooked cost of human activities on the ocean’s inhabitants, “The Cove” is an essential documentary for those passionate about marine life and environmental conservation.

6 - “Racing Extinction” (2015)

“Racing Extinction” is a powerful and visually stunning documentary that unveils the ongoing mass extinction of species caused by human activities. It presents a passionate call to action for conservation, aiming to change the world one viewer at a time.

racing extinction

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

Directed by Louie Psihoyos, “Racing Extinction” follows a team of artists and activists as they expose the hidden world of endangered species and the race to protect them against mass extinction. The film takes the viewer on a global journey, revealing how our actions contribute to a disappearing world.

The central themes of the documentary include wildlife trafficking, habitat destruction, climate change, and humanity’s role in these challenges. The film underscores that while we are the cause of these issues, we can also be the solution.

Notable Achievements and Impact

“Racing Extinction” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. The film became a social movement, spurring the hashtag #StartWith1Thing to encourage individuals to take action for the planet.

The documentary has had a significant impact on the public’s understanding of species extinction. It has raised awareness and fostered global discussions on the importance of biodiversity and the urgency of its conservation.

Reasons for Recommendation

“Racing Extinction” is an eye-opening and impactful documentary that weaves a story of hope amidst despair. It calls on each of us to rethink our relationship with nature and to act on behalf of the countless species under threat.

The film is a must-watch for its ability to capture the magnitude of the issue, while also empowering viewers to be part of the solution. It illustrates the grim realities of extinction but maintains an optimistic perspective that change is possible if we act now. It’s a timely and inspiring film that unites conservation, activism, and the power of media.

7 - “Planet Earth II” (2016)

“Planet Earth II” is an immersive exploration of the astonishing wonders of our world. This sequel to the acclaimed “ Planet Earth” series offers unprecedented, intimate views of our planet’s most elusive wildlife and remote landscapes.

planet earth ii

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

Narrated by the legendary Sir David Attenborough and produced by the BBC, “Planet Earth II” takes viewers on an epic journey through the world’s diverse habitats, from remote islands to dense cities. The series uses ultra-high-definition technology, offering an incredibly detailed view of our world’s diverse species and their complex interactions.

Key themes include the beauty of nature, the struggle for survival, the impact of climate change, and the resilience of life even in the harshest conditions. The series also touches on the human influence on the environment, showing both the negative impacts and the inspiring stories of cohabitation.

Notable Achievements and Impact

“Planet Earth II” was met with critical acclaim, receiving several awards, including the Bafta TV Award for Best Specialist Factual. The series was celebrated for its cutting-edge filming techniques, outstanding visual quality, and compelling storytelling.

The impact of “Planet Earth II” extends beyond its stunning visuals. The series has played a significant role in fostering a deeper appreciation for the planet’s natural wonders and in raising awareness about environmental issues. Its portrayal of human-wildlife interaction in urban areas has spurred dialogue about coexistence and conservation in urban planning.

Reasons for Recommendation

“Planet Earth II” is highly recommended for its breathtaking cinematography and the emotional depth of its storytelling. It opens up a world that few of us would otherwise get to see, offering a profound reminder of the wonders that we stand to lose without urgent action.

More than just an exploration of nature, the series is a reflection on humanity’s relationship with the environment. It resonates with viewers, inspiring awe, empathy, and a deeper understanding of our planet’s complex ecosystems. By showcasing the resilience and beauty of nature, “Planet Earth II” encourages us to value and protect our shared home.

8 - “Our Planet” (2019)

“Our Planet” is a bold and captivating exploration of the natural world that magnifies the impact of human activity on wildlife and ecosystems. It strikes a delicate balance between displaying the breathtaking beauty of the Earth and reminding us of the urgency of conservation efforts.

our planet

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

“Our Planet” is an eight-part series narrated by Sir David Attenborough and produced by Silverback Films, the team behind “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet”. The series travels through the world’s most precious natural habitats, from the remote Arctic wilderness to the diverse jungles of South America, presenting the complex web of life on Earth.

The key themes of “Our Planet” include the interconnectedness of nature, the impact of climate change on global habitats, and the urgency of conservation efforts. Unlike many nature documentaries, this series puts a significant emphasis on the detrimental impact humans have on the planet, making it both an awe-inspiring and sobering watch.

Notable Achievements and Impact

“Our Planet” has been met with universal acclaim, winning two Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series. It is lauded for its impressive cinematography, gripping narratives, and unflinching portrayal of the human impact on nature.

The series has had an undeniable impact in raising environmental awareness. Its accessible format and high-profile platform on Netflix have reached a global audience, sparking critical conversations about conservation and climate change. The series also collaborates with WWF, providing viewers with resources to help combat environmental issues.

Reasons for Recommendation

“Our Planet” is recommended for its engaging storytelling, spectacular visuals, and compelling call to action. The series brilliantly portrays the beauty and fragility of the natural world, making the urgency of protecting it palpable.

Not just a documentary, “Our Planet” is a call to action. It offers viewers not only a greater understanding of the state of the planet but also the tools and knowledge to make a difference. By blending the awe-inspiring with the alarming, “Our Planet” drives home the message that the fate of our planet is in our hands and that action is needed now more than ever.

9 - “Seaspiracy” (2021)

“Seaspiracy” is a groundbreaking documentary that dives into the alarming truths about the global fishing industry, challenging common perceptions about seafood consumption and ocean conservation. It is a thought-provoking exploration of our seas that reveals some uncomfortable truths.


Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

“Seaspiracy”, directed by Ali Tabrizi, is a documentary that tackles the dire state of our world’s oceans. The film begins with a fascination for marine life and a simple question about plastic pollution, eventually uncovering a global conspiracy around industrial fishing.

Key themes explored in the documentary include the impact of industrial fishing on marine life, the role of human consumption habits, the inefficacy of certain ‘sustainable’ fishing labels, and the controversial practices within the seafood industry. The documentary examines these themes with a critical eye, often providing shocking insights into the realities behind our seafood consumption.

Notable Achievements and Impact

“Seaspiracy” became one of Netflix’s top 10 films in several countries shortly after its release, sparking widespread discussion online and in the media. Despite its controversy and criticism for its confrontational approach, the documentary’s popularity has undeniably sparked significant discussion about our impact on the oceans.

The impact of “Seaspiracy” extends beyond its viewership numbers. It has provoked reactions from various organizations featured in the film and has prompted many viewers to question their seafood consumption habits, demonstrating the power of documentary film in effecting real-world change.

Reasons for Recommendation

“Seaspiracy” is recommended for its fearless examination of a highly complex and often overlooked issue. It offers viewers a new perspective on the impact of human activity on our oceans, one that could fundamentally shift their understanding and actions.

The documentary’s narrative, while controversial, is compelling and forces us to question our own complicity in the damage being inflicted upon our oceans. “Seaspiracy” serves as a stark reminder of the urgency of environmental protection, making it a must-watch for anyone interested in environmental sustainability.

10 - “Kiss the Ground” (2020)

“Kiss the Ground” is a pioneering documentary that elucidates the revolutionary idea of regenerative agriculture, a practice that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world. This profound revelation opens up new horizons for our approach to environmental sustainability.

kiss the ground

Brief Synopsis and Key Themes

“Kiss the Ground,” narrated by Woody Harrelson, is a full-length documentary shedding light on an innovative approach to farming called regenerative agriculture. This practice restores the world’s soils and could stabilize Earth’s climate, create abundant food supplies, and help combat climate change—all at once.

The documentary provides a comprehensive understanding of regenerative agriculture and its impact on the environment. The key themes revolve around soil health, carbon sequestration, food production, and the urgent need for a shift from conventional farming practices that exacerbate climate change.

Notable Achievements and Impact

Since its release, “Kiss the Ground” has received critical acclaim for its hopeful message and approachable explanation of regenerative agriculture. It has not only raised awareness about a less-known environmental solution but also started a meaningful discourse on sustainable farming practices.

The documentary’s real impact lies in its ability to inspire action. It has galvanized farmers, educators, and individuals around the world to explore regenerative agriculture and apply it in their local contexts.

Reasons for Recommendation

“Kiss the Ground” is an inspiring and hopeful vision of the future where agriculture is the hero, not the villain. Unlike many documentaries on the environment that leave you feeling helpless, this film presents a practical solution and invites viewers to be part of it.

It’s an empowering watch that leaves you with the understanding that the soil beneath our feet is a powerful tool to combat climate change. For anyone interested in agriculture, food security, and environmental sustainability, “Kiss the Ground” is an absolute must-watch.


We’ve embarked on an enlightening journey through some of the most impactful environmental documentaries of recent years. Each film not only tells a compelling story but also holds the power to reshape our understanding of the natural world and our place within it.


Recap of the Importance and Value of the Selected Documentaries

These documentaries, ranging from “An Inconvenient Truth” to “Kiss the Ground,” shed light on the intricate relationships between human activity, nature, and the health of our planet. They elucidate the significant impact our choices can have on the environment, revealing both the damaging effects of our current practices and the remarkable potential for positive change.

Whether it’s understanding the reality of climate change, the profound importance of soil health, or the shocking truth behind commercial fishing, each documentary provides a unique perspective on environmental issues and their interconnectedness. They open up the dialogue around sustainability and conservation, urging us to reconsider our individual and collective roles.

Encouragement for Viewers to Engage with These Films and Take Inspired Action

Now more than ever, we need to engage with these environmental documentaries. Each one has something unique to teach us, and they all contribute to a larger narrative about our shared responsibility to the planet.

After watching these documentaries, we encourage you to not only digest the information but also think about how you can take inspired action. Whether that’s altering your consumption habits, engaging in conversations about climate change, or advocating for policy changes, there are countless ways to make a difference.

Final Reflections on the Role of Documentaries in Raising Environmental Awareness

In conclusion, environmental documentaries play a crucial role in raising awareness and inspiring action. They give us the knowledge and tools we need to understand the state of our planet and contribute to its healing and preservation.

By illustrating the urgent environmental issues we face and presenting actionable solutions, these films can catalyze significant change. In watching them, we not only broaden our understanding but also become equipped to make informed decisions that benefit our planet.

As viewers, we have a crucial role to play. Let’s continue to watch, learn, share, and take inspired action towards a sustainable future. After all, it’s not just about preserving the environment for future generations, but ensuring a viable and thriving planet for us all, here and now.

Written by

Samuel Davis

With a deep love for nature and a strong belief in the power of sustainable living, I'm thrilled to be your guide on this eco-conscious adventure. Through my blog, I aim to inspire and educate readers about the importance of sustainable practices, renewable energy, and the wonders of our natural world. Join me as we delve into practical tips, thought-provoking discussions, and heartwarming stories that will empower you to make a positive difference in the world around us.