Planet Aid's Favorite Socially Conscious Documentaries

Documentaries have become one of our culture's most effectual influencers. A truly great nonfiction film can educate people and inspire them to act, oftentimes under the course of a two-hour running time. Consider the attention shift to climate change issues after Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the conversations about gun control prompted by Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, or even the downsizing of McDonald's massive portions after Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me.

We believe that access to information is vital to the survival of every person, country, and society. To that end, we've curated a list of documentaries that reflect current environmental and social issues and seek to better the world through the sharing of information. These picks champion Planet Aid's dual mission of creating a more sustainable world and fighting poverty. They range from full-length, big-budget films to short, investigative journalism pieces. All of them are guaranteed to challenge and enlighten you.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017)

More than ten years after An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore is at it again, showing what has happened in the intervening time, both bad and good. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power emphasizes the amazing progress made toward a more sustainable future, while also vividly describing the worsening impacts of climate change. It refreshingly applauds achievements over failures and offers a real message of hope that stands on progress rather than ineffectual hopelessness.

How to watch it: Amazon, Netflix, and DVD or Blu-Ray

Watch the trailer here:

Tomorrow (2015)

If you're looking for an optimistic documentary, this is the one for you. Tomorrow sets out to showcase alternative and creative ways of viewing agriculture, economics, energy, and education, offering constructive solutions to act on at a local level to make a difference on a global level. While it's sometimes easy to feel powerless when faced with the growing environmental problem, even small actions can have an enormous impact when combined with others' actions. This documentary encourages each person to do what he or she can, and see the impact that can be made.

How to watch it: iTunes, Google Play, Microsoft, Vudu, Spectrum, PlayStation Store, and Vimeo

Watch the trailer here:

The True Cost (2015)

The True Cost dives into the world of clothing, looking at the people who make clothing, the impact the industry is having on the environment, and the world's people. It goes all over the world from runways to slums, interviewing all involved, and asks us to consider who really pays the price for our cheap clothing?

How to watch it: On the website

Watch the trailer here:

Trashed (2012)

Trashed takes a look at the impact of our waste. On average, Americans create almost five pounds of waste daily, amounting to nearly a half billion tons of waste annually. Watch the film to see how this affects populations, our natural resources, and our future. (And, don't forget to keep your textiles out of the trash by putting them in a yellow bin!)

How to watch: On the website

Watch the trailer here:

Bag It (2010)

Bag It follows an "everyday man" who goes on a journey to understand why there are so many plastic bags being used. It offers a look at a huge environmental problem through the eyes of the average person, explores the history and pervasiveness of plastic in current society, seeks out the truth of what happens when we throw away those plastic bags, and shows what can be done about it. In the wake of the current push to ban single-use plastics, this documentary lays out why that push is so necessary.

How to watch: Amazon and iTunes

Watch the trailer here:

The Story of Stuff (2007)

A bit older, but still full of important information! The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute look at the ways production and consumption connect with environmental and social issues. Chocked-full facts and creative animated visuals, this documentary will make you think twice about what you buy at the store.

Watch it here:

Mission Blue (2014)

Focused on oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue shows viewers the need to protect and conserve ocean areas. It's a beautiful and inspiring documentary that tells the story of ocean degradation and Dr. Earle's mission to save marine life.

How to watch: Netflix and DVD

Watch the trailer here:

How Fast Fashion Adds to the World's Clothing Waste Problem (2018)

Produced for a Canadian news station, this 20-minute investigative journalism piece describes the overwhelming amount of clothing thrown away, the energy wasted in the production and destruction of that clothing, and how fast fashion is creating much more of a problem than it's recycling programs can fix.

Watch it here:

Vanishing of the Bees (2009)

Did you know that honeybees pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables? Without bees humans are in trouble. And, recently, honeybees have been mysteriously vanishing from their hives. Vanishing of the Bees explores this phenomenon, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, and how this mystery is already impacting nature.

How to watch: DVD

Watch the trailer here: