waste-landEarth Day‘s coming up soon, and while you can plant a tree or clean up your town, you can also just open up your mind to new points of view on the environment with award-winning documentaries.  My list of environmental-themed movies are multidimensional movies layered with social issues.  Plus, if you’ve got a Netflix account, these are all instant-streaming movies you can easily find.

  1. Dive!: This documentary is first and foremost about feeding everyone, more than it is about saving the environment.  They look at the issue of hunger around the world from the perspective that we already have so many resources that we waste.  So, instead of figuring out how to produce more food (and thus, draining our environment), they look at facts and figures about the food wasted daily at top grocery stores in our country.  The numbers are astonishing, and the first-person look at dumpster diving is amazing, as well (who knew you could feed your family healthy food from trash, that otherwise would be filling up landfills).  From an environmental perspective, it’s a smart move to evaluate what we already have and make simple changes to utilize it better.
  2. Encounters at the End of the World: This movie is primarily about the beauty and wonder of the icy, foreign continent of Antarctica, but any movie that reminds us of the wildlife and complicated ecosystems that we share the world with is an environmental film, too.  The narrator and director, Werner Herzog, so poetically progresses the story, complementing the wondrous setting.  You also get to know the surprisingly bohemian band of scientists and workers that make this isolated, harsh environment there home, seeing through their eyes, as well, what makes it so precious and worth protecting.
  3. Waste Land: If you only see one movie on this list, please make it this one.  This is very much a multi-layered movie, about waste and landfills, poverty, culture, second chances, art, and so much more.  The heart of the story is the Brazilians skimming the world’s largest dump for recyclables, people described as at the end of the line.  Literally tossed away to the landfill like trash, they get a second chance at motivation and inspiration when Artist Vik Muniz holds his hand out to the garbage and asks them to assist him in a new art project.  Just as they helped recycle things once disposed, they get a new outlook on life as they help Muniz create their own portraits out of trash.

Image courtesy of Flickr.