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22 Best Earth Day Movies, Films, and Documentaries to Watch

Looking for the best earth day movies to learn more about our Mother Earth? Here are 22 movies and documentaries to watch.

Happy Earth Day! In honor of our planet, we have put together a list of the 20 best movies to watch this Earth Day to better understand planet earth.

From documentaries to features, these films are a great way to learn more about environmentalism. They will inspire you to take better care of our earth and its inhabitants.

What better way to learn more about mother earth as a family than watching a movie together? Grab some popcorn and settle in for a night of environmental education and entertainment with the whole family!

22 Best Earth Day Movies, Films, and Documentaries to Watch

There are many great movies to watch for Earth Day that can help raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire action to protect the planet.

Here are a few movie guides and recommendations to help you find the perfect film whether you’re looking for a short film or the best documentary feature to show for a class:

1. An Inconvenient Truth (2006):

Ages 7+, 1hr 36minutes

“An Inconvenient Truth” is a documentary film that presents the issue of climate change and its potential impact on the planet.

The film features former U.S. Vice President Al Gore delivering a slide show presentation on global warming and its effects on the environment.

It covers various aspects related to climate change, including rising temperatures, melting glaciers, sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and the impacts on plant and animal species, like the polar bear, for example.

The documentary also emphasizes the role of human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, in contributing to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating global warming.

Overall, the film aims to raise awareness about the issue of climate change and encourage individuals, organizations, and governments to take action to address it.

Toxic waste from human hands Industries that create pollution and cities that are affected by pollution.

2. The 11th Hour (2007):

PG, 1hr 32 minutes

“The 11th Hour” is a documentary film that explores the state of the global environment and the impact of human activity on the planet. It’s still relevant today.

The film, narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, features interviews with leading environmentalists, scientists, and thinkers, who discuss the various environmental issues facing the world today, including climate change, deforestation, pollution, and species extinction.

The documentary argues that we are facing a critical moment in history, and that urgent action is needed to address these issues and prevent irreversible damage to the planet.

It also highlights some of the innovative solutions and technologies that are being developed to address these challenges, and emphasizes the need for greater awareness and public engagement on environmental issues.

Overall, the film is a call to action, urging individuals and governments to take immediate steps to protect the environment and ensure a sustainable future for all.

3. Chasing Coral (2017):

“Chasing Coral” is a documentary film that follows a team of divers, scientists, and photographers as they document the devastating effects of coral bleaching on coral reefs around the world.

The film highlights how rising sea temperatures, caused by climate change and other factors, are leading to the widespread death of coral reefs, and the impact this has on the marine ecosystem.

The documentary also explains the science behind coral bleaching, and how this process occurs when corals become stressed and expel the colorful algae that live in their tissues, causing them to turn white.

The film features stunning underwater footage of coral reefs, as well as interviews with coral experts and scientists who are working to understand and address the problem of coral bleaching.

Overall, “Chasing Coral” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that highlights the urgent need for action to protect our oceans and the marine life that depends on them.

Freediver in wetsuit neoprene swim in the sea

4. Wall-E (2008):

G, 1hr 38 minutes

“Wall-E” is an animated science fiction film produced by Pixar Animation Studios.

The film is set in the distant future, where the Earth has been abandoned and left covered in garbage, forcing the remaining humans to live in a giant spaceship called the Axiom.

The story follows the adventures of Wall-E, a trash-compacting robot left on Earth to clean up the mess, who falls in love with another robot named EVE, sent to Earth to search for signs of life.

The two robots embark on a journey through space, encountering various challenges and adventures along the way, as they work to save humanity and restore the Earth to its former glory.

“Wall-E” is a poignant and thought-provoking film that explores themes of environmentalism, consumerism, and the relationship between humans and technology, all while delivering a heartwarming love story that appeals to audiences of all ages.

5. The Lorax (2012):

PG, 1hr 26 minutes

Based on the classic Dr. Seuss book, this animated film tells the story of the Lorax, a creature who speaks for the trees and fights against environmental destruction.

This is also a great earth day movie for kids which are ideal for young viewers.

Danny DeVito and Lorax at the "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" Premiere, Universal Studios, Universal City, CA 02-19-12

6. Before the Flood (2016):

1hr 35 minutes

“Before the Flood” is a documentary film that follows actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels around the world to explore the effects of climate change and to raise awareness about the urgent need to address this global issue.

The film features interviews with world leaders, scientists, and activists, who share their insights and expertise on climate change and its impacts on the planet, including rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and the loss of biodiversity.

The documentary also highlights the role of human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, in driving climate change, and emphasizes the need for individuals, corporations, and governments to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean, renewable energy sources.

Through its engaging storytelling and stunning visuals, “Before the Flood” offers a compelling call to action on climate change, urging viewers to take responsibility for the future of the planet and work together to build a sustainable future.

7. A Plastic Ocean (2016):

Ages 7+, 1 hr 40 minutes

“A Plastic Ocean” is a documentary film that examines the impact of plastic waste on the world’s oceans and marine life.

The film follows a team of researchers and activists as they travel around the world, exploring the extent of plastic pollution in our oceans and its effects on marine ecosystems.

The documentary features shocking images of plastic waste in the ocean, including large plastic islands, and highlights how plastic pollution harms marine life, disrupts food chains, and affects human health.

The film also discusses the economic and social implications of plastic pollution and presents potential solutions to this global problem, including increased awareness and individual action, as well as government policies and industry initiatives.

Overall, “A Plastic Ocean” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that raises awareness about the urgent need to address plastic pollution and encourages viewers to take action to protect our oceans and the planet.

8. Our Planet (2019):

“Our Planet” is a documentary mini series produced by Netflix in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The series explores the wonders of the natural world and the impact of human activities on the environment.

Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, each episode focuses on a different habitat and the unique challenges faced by the animals and plants that call it home.

The series also highlights the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect these delicate ecosystems and the species that rely on them for survival.

“Our Planet” is not only a breathtaking visual spectacle but also a powerful call to action for viewers to take responsibility for the future of our planet.

9. The Biggest Little Farm (2018):

2hr 19 minutes

“The Biggest Little Farm” is a documentary film that follows the story of John and Molly Chester, a couple who leave their urban lifestyle behind to start a sustainable farm on 200 acres of barren land in Southern California.

The film chronicles their eight-year journey as they transform the land into a thriving, biodiverse farm using traditional farming methods and sustainable practices.

Along the way, they face numerous challenges such as pests, droughts, and wildfires, but they also experience moments of joy and discovery as they work alongside nature to build a thriving ecosystem.

The film highlights the importance of regenerative agriculture and the role that sustainable farming practices can play in combating climate change and preserving the planet’s natural resources. It also underscores the interconnectedness of all living things and the power of working with nature instead of against it.

10. The True Cost (2015):

1 hr 32 minutes

“The True Cost” is a documentary film that explores the impact of the global fashion industry on people and the planet.

The film examines the social and environmental costs of fast fashion, which is the practice of producing inexpensive clothing quickly and at a large scale.

This film takes viewers on a journey to different parts of the world where clothes are made, including the United States, Bangladesh, and India. It sheds light on the harsh working conditions, low wages, and exploitation of garment workers, particularly women, who make the clothes we wear.

It also examines the environmental impact of the fashion industry, such as the excessive use of water, energy, and chemicals in the production of clothing, and the contribution of fashion to global pollution and waste.

Through interviews with experts, fashion industry insiders, and activists, “The True Cost” exposes the hidden costs of our clothing choices and challenges viewers to consider the impact of their purchasing decisions.

The film highlights the need for greater transparency and accountability in the fashion industry and encourages consumers to demand more sustainable and ethical practices from fashion brands.

11. The Day After Tomorrow (2004):

Ages 7+, 2 hr 3 minutes

“The Day After Tomorrow” is a 2004 disaster film that tells the story of a sudden and catastrophic climate shift that plunges the world into a new ice age.

The film follows a group of scientists and survivors as they struggle to survive in the face of extreme weather events and societal collapse.

12. Happy Feet (2006):

PG, 1 hr 40 minutes

“Happy Feet” is a 2006 animated film that tells the story of a young emperor penguin named Mumble who is born without the ability to sing, which is a crucial part of finding a mate in his community. Instead, he expresses himself through tap dancing, which is considered unusual and even shameful among the penguins.

As Mumble, the main character, grows up, he faces rejection and isolation from his community, who do not understand or accept his unique form of expression.

He eventually sets out on a journey to discover the cause of the shortage of fish in his community’s food supply, and in the process, he encounters new friends and enemies and learns important lessons about being true to oneself and the importance of community and friendship.

Along the way, “Happy Feet” touches on themes of environmentalism and the impact of human activity on the natural world, as the penguins’ food supply is threatened by overfishing and pollution.

Mumble’s epic journey is one of the most amazing earth day movies to watch on your next family movie night.

Penguin on the stone coast of Antarctica, mountains in the background

13. Home (2009):

PG, 1 hr 32 minutes

“Home” is a documentary film that explores the state of the planet and the impact of human activities on the Earth’s ecosystems. The film is directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand and features stunning aerial footage of various locations around the world.

The film covers a wide range of topics, including deforestation, climate change, pollution, and the depletion of natural resources. It shows how human activities have resulted in the degradation of the planet and highlights the urgent need for action to protect the Earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity.

The film also highlights the interconnectedness of all living things and emphasizes the importance of taking a holistic approach to environmental issues.

It underscores the critical role that each individual can play in making a positive impact on the planet and encourages viewers to take action in their own lives.

Through its breathtaking visuals and compelling narrative, “Home” serves as a powerful call to action for viewers to take responsibility for the future of the planet and to work towards creating a sustainable and equitable world for all of us.

14. Cowspiracy (2014):

Ages 13+, 1hr 30 minutes

“Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” is a 2014 documentary film that examines the environmental impact of animal agriculture, specifically the meat and dairy industries.

The film follows the journey of filmmaker Kip Andersen as he seeks to understand the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and why this issue is not more widely discussed.

He interviews a range of experts, from environmentalists to animal rights activists, and presents statistics and data on the impact of animal agriculture on deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and other environmental issues.

“Cowspiracy” argues that animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental destruction, contributing to climate change, habitat loss, and water scarcity, among other problems. The film suggests that reducing or eliminating animal products from our diets is a crucial step toward reducing our environmental impact.

The film also addresses the role of corporations and government in perpetuating the animal agriculture industry, highlighting the influence of industries such as agribusiness and the meat lobby.

15. Ice on Fire (2019):

1hr 37 minutes

“Ice on Fire” is a documentary film about the impact of climate change and the efforts to combat it. The film is directed by Leila Conners and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The film examines the causes and consequences of climate change, including the melting of Arctic ice, rising sea levels, and more frequent natural disasters. It also explores the potential solutions to these environmental challenges, such as renewable energy, carbon capture technologies, and reforestation efforts.

“Ice on Fire” features interviews with scientists, environmental activists, and entrepreneurs who are working to develop and implement solutions to address the climate crisis. It highlights innovative technologies and approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reversing the effects of climate change.

The film emphasizes the urgency of action needed to address the climate crisis and the potential for individuals and communities to make a positive impact on the planet. It encourages viewers to take action in their own lives and to support systemic changes to address the environmental crisis.

Backlit cattle grazing in a field at sunset.

16. No Impact Man (2009):

1hr 32 minutes

“No Impact Man” is a documentary film that follows the year-long journey of Colin Beavan and his family as they attempt to live a “zero-impact” lifestyle in New York City. The film is directed by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein.

The film documents Colin’s efforts to reduce his carbon footprint and environmental impact by making significant changes in his lifestyle, such as reducing electricity usage, eliminating disposable products, and adopting a vegan diet. His family also participates in this experiment, which leads to some challenges and conflicts along the way.

Throughout the film, Colin and his family confront the limitations and trade-offs of their “no impact” lifestyle, as well as the wider environmental and social issues that are driving their experiment. The film also explores the importance of community, personal responsibility, and the potential for collective action to address environmental challenges.

17. Kiss the Ground (2020):

1hr 25 minutes

“Kiss the Ground” is a 2020 documentary film that explores the potential of regenerative agriculture to address the pressing environmental issues facing our planet, such as climate change, soil degradation, and food insecurity.

The film takes a holistic approach to farming, showcasing how regenerative agriculture practices, such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and composting, can restore soil health and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. It also highlights the potential of regenerative agriculture to improve the nutritional quality of food and create a more sustainable food system.

“Kiss the Ground” features interviews with experts in the field of regenerative agriculture, such as farmers, scientists, and environmentalists, as well as celebrities who are passionate about the environmental movement, such as Woody Harrelson and Gisele Bundchen.

The film also touches on the impact of industrial agriculture on our planet, including the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, monoculture, and deforestation.

18. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017):

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” is a 2017 documentary film that serves as a follow-up to the 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The film follows former Vice President Al Gore as he continues his efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change and the urgent need to take action to address the crisis.

The film highlights the devastating impact of climate change around the world, including flooding, droughts, and other extreme weather events. It also showcases the progress that has been made in renewable energy and the efforts of countries to reduce their carbon emissions.

The film also documents the political challenges that Gore faces in his advocacy work, particularly in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Overall, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” is a call to action for individuals and governments to take the necessary steps to combat climate change before it’s too late.

19. Mission Blue (2014):

PG, 1hr 34 minutes

“Mission Blue” is a true story documentary film about the life and work of oceanographer and environmentalist Dr. Sylvia Earle. The film is directed by Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon.

The film chronicles Dr. Earle’s career as a marine biologist and her lifelong dedication to ocean conservation. It explores the beauty and diversity of the world’s oceans, as well as the environmental challenges facing these fragile ecosystems, such as pollution, overfishing, and climate change.

The film follows Dr. Earle on a series of ocean expeditions, where she documents the impact of human activities on the marine environment and advocates for greater protection of the world’s oceans.

It also highlights the importance of marine conservation efforts and the potential for individuals and communities to make a positive impact on the planet.

Through its stunning visuals and inspiring message, “Mission Blue” serves as a call to action for viewers to take responsibility for the health of the world’s oceans and to work towards creating a more sustainable and equitable world for all. It underscores the urgency of addressing environmental challenges and highlights the critical role that the oceans play in the health of the planet.

20. Tomorrow (2015):

“Tomorrow” (original title: “Demain”) is a French documentary film directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent. The film explores solutions to environmental and social issues facing the planet, including climate change, resource depletion, and economic inequality.

The film features interviews with scientists, environmentalists, and activists who are working on innovative solutions to address these challenges. It showcases examples of sustainable and regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, community-based economies, and political activism.

The film emphasizes the importance of taking action at the local level, highlighting the power of individuals and communities to create positive change.

It encourages viewers to think critically about the systems that underpin our economy and society and to work towards building a more sustainable and equitable world.

Through its positive and optimistic message, “Tomorrow” provides hope and inspiration for viewers, demonstrating that solutions to environmental and social challenges are possible and within reach.

It underscores the importance of collective action and highlights the critical role that each individual can play in creating a better future for all.

21. The Ivory Game (2016):

Ages 14+, 1hr 52 minutes

“The Ivory Game” is a documentary film directed by Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson. The film explores the illegal ivory trade and the devastating impact it has on the elephant population in Africa.

The film follows a group of activists, journalists, and conservationists as they work to expose the illicit ivory trade and bring those responsible to justice. It documents the brutality and corruption of the ivory trade, as well as the human cost of wildlife conservation efforts.

Through interviews with experts, undercover investigations, and footage of ivory seizures, the film sheds light on the complex web of criminal networks involved in the ivory trade and the challenges of stopping it. It highlights the need for greater international cooperation and political will to address the illegal wildlife trade.

“The Ivory Game” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that raises awareness about the urgent need to protect endangered species and the role that each individual can play in this effort.

It emphasizes the importance of preserving biodiversity and the need for collective action to address the environmental challenges facing the planet.

22. A Life on Our Planet (2020):

PG, 1hr 23 minutes

“A Life on Our Planet” is a documentary film that chronicles the life and work of Sir David Attenborough, a renowned naturalist and broadcaster. The film is directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes, and Keith Scholey.

The film explores the changes that have taken place in the natural world during Sir David’s lifetime. It highlights the impact of human activities on the planet. There is an urgent need for action to address the environmental crisis.

It features stunning footage of the natural world. Plus interviews with Sir David and experts in the field of conservation and ecology.

The film takes viewers on a journey through Sir David’s life and career. It highlights the need for sustainable and regenerative practices. This is to protect the planet’s biodiversity and ensure a livable future for generations to come.

Through its powerful message and inspiring vision, “A Life on Our Planet” provides a call to action for individuals and governments around the world to take responsibility for the health of the planet and work towards a more sustainable future.

It emphasizes the critical role that each individual can play in creating a better world. It encourages viewers to take action to protect the natural world for future generations.

In Summary: Best Earth Day Movies

This post was about the best earth day movies to help educate on the global climate crisis. Plus how our actions (and inaction) affect our planet.

There are many actions we can take to help save our environment. From reducing our carbon footprint and limiting energy consumption to regenerative agriculture and protecting endangered species.

Watching movies about environmental issues can be an engaging way to learn more about what’s at stake and how we can all work together to make a difference.

From documentaries highlighting the fashion industry’s impact on the planet, to animated films encouraging us to take action before it’s too late, there are plenty of Earth Day movies that can inspire and inform.

So, if you’re looking for ways to mark the occasion this Earth Day, why not check out one or two of these inspiring films? You might just be inspired to make some small changes in your life that will make a big difference. It’s the perfect time to make the world a better place.

Happy Earth Day! 🙂

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.

Website: genthirty.com