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12 Amazing Documentaries on Sustainability, Regeneration That You Now Have Time to Watch

As many of us find ourselves with much more time at home due to the COVID-19 crisis, a lot of us are finding opportunities to do things we couldn’t quite get to in the course of our ‘regular lives’ before the widespread lockdowns.

Last week, we shared a list of top-rated books that we think would make excellent companions to anyone interested in the cutting edge of sustainability and regeneration; and with this post, we’re turning our attention to top-notch documentary films that can have a similar effect. Films also have the added benefit of being a fantastic way to spend time with family, and teach children and adults alike valuable lessons about the natural world.

Without further ado, here is our list of 12 highly recommended recent sustainability and regeneration documentaries. Have fun!

The Game Changers (2019)

Presented by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul — this revolutionary film follows a cast of high-performance athletes who dispel age-old myths about meat, protein and strength.

The Promise of Biomimicry

Design that works in harmony with nature

Hear from Janine Benyus and Biomimicry 3.8 about the latest innovations in biomimetic design being implemented by forward-thinking companies and practitioners — at SB'20 Long Beach.

(2020)

Ever wonder how an idea inspired by nature gets brought to market? Biomimicry looks to the natural world for creative, sustainable solutions to solve our greatest design challenges. But it’s not enough to have a strategy for tackling a problem without the means to make it a reality. What happens when you have a genius biomimicry idea that can help make the world a better place?

In a new short film produced by Tree Media, we get a firsthand perspective of how the Biomimicry Institute is pioneering an open-access platform for nature-inspired design. Co-founder Janine Benyus walks us through the emerging discipline, and we meet up-and-coming companies who are working to bring their innovation to market.

"Our Planet" (2019)

Experience our planet's natural splendor and examine how climate change impacts all living creatures in this ambitious British documentary series of spectacular scope.

Chasing Coral (2017)

Coral reefs around the world are dying and vanishing at an alarming rate. In this film from director Jeff Orlowski — maker of the equally stunning 2012 documentary, Chasing Ice (also highly recommended) — a team of divers, photographers and scientists sets out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.

Fools & Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forest (2019)

This is a 30-minute documentary about the Hinewai Nature Reserve, on New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula; and its kaitiaki/manager of 30 years, botanist Hugh Wilson. When, in 1987, Wilson let the local community know of his plans to allow the introduced ‘weed,’ gorse, to grow as a nurse canopy to regenerate farmland into native forest, people were not only skeptical but outright angry — the plan was the sort to be expected only of “fools and dreamers.”

Now considered a hero locally and across the country, Wilson oversees 1,500 hectares resplendent in native forest, where birds and other wildlife are abundant and 47 known waterfalls are in permanent flow. He has proven without doubt that nature knows best — and that he is no fool.

The Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy

(2018)

A Third Industrial Revolution is unfolding with the convergence of three pivotal technologies: an ultra-fast 5G communication internet, a renewable energy internet and a driverless mobility internet, all connected to the Internet of Things embedded across society and the environment. This 21st-century, smart digital infrastructure is giving rise to a radical new sharing economy that is transforming the way we manage, power and move economic life. But with climate change now ravaging the planet, it needs to happen fast.

The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.

Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature's conflicts, the Chesters uncover and unlock a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons and our wildest imagination.

Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, this film provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.

"NOVA: Poisoned Water" (2017)

In this episode narrated by actor Joe Morton, PBSNOVA investigates what happened in Flint, Michigan, when local officials changed the city’s water source to save money, but overlooked a critical treatment process. As the water pipes corroded, lead leached into the system, exposing the community — including thousands of children — to dangerous levels of poison. NOVA uncovers the science behind this manmade disaster — from the intricacies of water chemistry to the biology of lead poisoning to the misuse of science itself. The film follows ordinary citizens and independent scientists who exposed the danger lurking in Flint’s water and confronted those who turned a blind eye. Discover the disturbing truth that reaches far beyond Flint — water systems across the country are similarly vulnerable.

A Plastic Ocean (2016)

When he discovers the world's oceans brimming with plastic waste, filmmaker Craig Leeson investigates the pollution's environmental impacts.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (2015)

How might your life be better with less? Minimalism examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life — families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists and even a former Wall Street broker — all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.

"Hostile Planet" (2019)

This National Geographic series, hosted by “Man vs Wild” adventurer Bear Grylls, shines a light on some of the world's harshest and most unforgivable landscapes, and the animals that have adapted to survive in these conditions.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak (2019)

In this docuseries presciently released shortly before the global arrival of COVID-19, meet the heroes on the front lines of the battle against previous viral pandemics and learn about efforts to stop the next global outbreak.

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