12 sustainability documentaries every student should watch

Summary: You want to learn more about sustainability or raise awareness to create a sustainable university? Then watch or screen a sustainability documentary! Here are 12 documentaries that ask critical questions, explore sustainability issues and inspire you to act.

1. Chasing Coral

This sustainability documentary follows a team of divers, scientists and photographers on a mysterious journey. They want to learn why corals are vanishing and what can be done to stop it. While doing so, they discover the hidden beauty of the world’s coral reefs. https://www.chasingcoral.com/ (89min)

2. Tomorrow

This is one of the most uplifing sustainability documentaries. The filmmakers travelled around the world to meet local communities and people that are working on creative solutions to environmental and social challenges. You will learn about innovative ideas to rethink agriculture, energy, economy, education and governance.  https://www.tomorrow-documentary.com/ (118min)

3. The 4th Revolution: Energy autonomy

Enough end of the world scenarios. This documentary portrays the vision of a world powered by 100% renewable energy. It shows how this energy transition would decentralize power and distribute capital more equitably. http://4th-revolution.com (In German with English subtitles; 83min)

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4. Before the flood

This National Geographic Documentary features Leonardo DiCaprio’s journey to five continents and the Arctic. You witness climate change firsthand and meet people who are taking action against it. This is a good sustainability documentary to refresh the basics about global warming. www.beforetheflood.com (96min)

5. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

This sustainability documentary uncovers how the diary industry is one of the most destructive industry facing the planet today. You will also learn why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. A great film which shows that addressing global challenges is not only about shifting energy generation, but also the way we consume food. Time to go vegan? www.cowspiracy.com (85min)

6. The Ivory Game

Every 15 minutes, one elephant disappears. This sustainability documentary exposes the dark world of ivory trafficking from the planes of Africa to the streets of China and portrays courageous people resisting it. A touching movie about wildlife loss and inspiring individuals who put their lives on the line to stop it. https://theivorygame.com (112min)

7. More than honey

This sustainability documentary charts the increasing decline of bee colonies and examines the possible reasons for it. A disturbing movie about what happens when species go extinct which are central to our agricultural industry. http://morethanhoneyfilm.com (In German with English subtitles; 95min)

8. Minimalism

This sustainability documentary critically explores consumerism and introduces minimalism as a counter-ideology. The documentary portrays people from all walks of life – families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, etc. – who strive to live a more meaningful life with less stuff. Time to clean up your closet! https://minimalismfilm.com (79min)

9. Blood in the mobile

Almost everybody has a cellphone. But where do the minerals come from to produce those? This sustainability documentary follows the supply chain of mobiles, showing how conflict minerals from Congo (can) end up in your cellphone. (More on Wikipedia; 83min)

10. Manufactured Landscapes

This sustainability documentary shows the photographs and videos of an artist portraying landscapes that have been altered by large-scale human activity. These beautiful and disturbing images illustrate the degree to which human activity is altering the natural landscape. (More on Wikipedia; 90min)

11. No impact man

An environmentalist, who could no long avoid pointing the finger at himself, vowed to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year. This sustainability documentary follows his quest. http://colinbeavan.com/movie (93min)

12. Planetary

This sustainability documentary goes way beyond the usual technological fixes to address global challenges. It asks you to rethink your assumptions about who we really are as a species. You learn to reconsider our relationship with yourself, other humans and the world around you. A poetic and provocative film that provides a new narrative of what it means to be human. http://weareplanetary.com (85min)

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