Up until now, it’s been hard to track down the best environmental movies. Sure, there’s the odd ‘top 10’ list here and there. Those lists tend to be short and pick off a few of the obvious films (like An ‘Inconvenient Truth’.) In fact, there are many great green films out there.
In this list, you’ll find a comprehensive round-up of the best environmental movies – new and old – here in one place. We’re up to 100 environmental films and counting as we keep adding the best of the new releases.
To make it easier we’ve put them in categories for you. (You can click on the link to jump down to that category.)
Food & Agriculture
Energy and Waste
Consumerism & Waste
The Natural World
Conservation & Animals
Let us know what you think in the comments. And whether we’ve missed any good ones!
Dances With Wolves
Gorillas in the Mist
Into the Wild
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Woman at War
Honourable mention: Chinatown.
Children of Men
The Age of Stupid
The Day After Tomorrow
Honourable mention: Interstellar.
Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest
Horton Hears a Who
Over the Hedge
The Lion King
Saving My Tomorrow
A New Economy
The Carbon Rush
The Economics of Happiness
Catching the Sun
Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution Trailer
Life Off the Grid
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Switch: The Future of Energy
Cross of the Moment
The Wisdom to Survive
Time to Choose
An Inconvenient Sequel
An Inconvenient Truth
Before The Flood
Do The Math
The 11th Hour
The Age Of Consequences
This Changes Everything
Honourable mention: Years of Living Dangerously (documentary tv series)
The Human Element
Merchants of Doubt
Force of Nature (David Suzuki)
Harmony (Prince Charles)
I Am Greta (Greta Thunberg)
Jane (Jane Goodall)
The Island President (Mohamed Nasheed)
Watson (Paul Watson)
How to Let Go of the World (and Love all the Things Climate Can’t Change)
My Octopus Teacher
No Impact Man
The Human Element
The Reluctant Radical
Big River Man
Mother – Caring for 7 Billion
A Fierce Green Fire: the battle for a living planet
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
How to Change the World
In the Shadow of the Moon
Encounters at the End of the World
The Discarded: A Tale of Two Rios
The River and the Wall
The True Cost
Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life
Tiny: A Story About Living Small
FOOD and AGRICULTURE
A Place at the Table
Dirt! The Movie
Evolution of Organic
Fast Food Nation
Food for Thought, Food for Life
Fresh – New Thinking About What We’re Eating
Seeds of Time
Seed: The Untold Story
The Biggest Little Farm
The Future of Food
The Gateway Bug
Can You Dig This
Just Eat It – a food waste story
Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
At The Fork
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Forks Over Knives
The World According to Monsanto
More Than Honey
Queen of the Sun: what are the bees telling us
Vanishing of the Bees
The Babushkas of Chernobyl
The City Dark
The Devil We Know
The Human Experiment
The Politics of Pollution: Toxic Soup
CONSUMERISM AND WASTE
Bag It: Is your life too plastic?
Death By Design
The Clean Bin Project
The Story of Plastic
Honourable mention: The Story of Stuff (YouTube video)
A Crude Awakening
After The Spill
Houston We Have A Problem
The Great Invisible
Dirty Business: “clean coal” and the battle for our energy future
The Last Mountain
Bikes v Cars
Revenge of the Electric Car
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
The End of Suburbia
The Human Scale
CONSERVATION and ANIMALS
The Burning Season
Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Sea of Shadows
My Octopus Teacher
Sushi: The Global Catch
The End of the Line
Blue Gold: world water wars
Last Call at the Oasis
Animals in Love
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History
March of the Penguins
Honourable mentions: David Attenborough TV documentaries e.g. The Blue Planet and Our Planet
General Orders No.9
Environmental films – some observations
Here are some observations about all these environmental films as a whole:
Very few green films get wide exposure or even a run at movie theatres. (‘An Inconvenient Truth’ is one of the few standouts.) Yet there are many great environmental films out there. The vast majority fall under the radar.
We’ve categorised these films for you. This came about as we compiled them. We started to see patterns with sub-categories of green films. Hope this helps if you have an interest in one of those areas.
The sum total
When you put the message of them all together, it is a little confronting. Some might say depressing. But that’s what we’ve got: a planet with systems in decline on multiple fronts – thanks to the weight of human activity. We all need to get our heads around it and understand how we are affecting our home – planet Earth.
That’s why these films together are so important. They’re a big wake up call. It ain’t just climate change we need to worry about. That’s just one symptom of an even larger challenge. Humans have put all of the Earth’s systems under pressure. We need to live sustainably on this planet. That’s the big picture.
Old and new
The list includes films from many decades ago (when only the odd green film came out) to recent time – when there’s a swag of new green movies released each year. It’s possibly a sign of growing awareness of the problems that there seems to be an ever-increasing number of environmental films. Or maybe the problems are getting bigger. Or both.
We’ve mostly steered clear of TV and video programs as we’ve wanted to stay focused on film. There are some honourable mentions in our list – which tend to be pieces that have been largely produced for TV.
Have we missed any great green films? Let us know what they are in the comments.
Keep an eye on this list too. We’ll be adding other good ones as they’re released. Our intention is to make this the complete reference for finding the best environmental films.
We do roundups of the best of what’s happening in the media when it comes to the environment and sustainability. Check out our ‘Best Environmental Media‘ section.
You might want to include Sharkwater Extinction – it has won over 50 awards since its release at TIFF in 2018 and is still in demand at festivals and environmental conferences worldwide .
I think you need an environmental justice category and include the following: A Civil Action, Erin Brockovich, and The Return of Navajo Boy.
In agriculture, The plow that Broke the Plains should be considered.
In water, no list is complete without Cadillac Desert.
Also in the Sci Fi category, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home could definitely make the cut.
For air pollution, what about Under the Dome…