As we prepare for life after the pandemic, the inspiration of the great outdoors calls. These 7 environment documentaries are essential Earth Day watching.

Seven inspiring stories for Earth Day 2021

This time last year, much of the world was in lockdown. Now, we move towards a new normal of roaming freely in the great outdoors. But spare a thought for the future of nature. While we’ve been battling lousy Zoom connections, the environment is under threat from plastic pollution, overfishing and more.

But technological advancements and our renewed appreciation of nature mean hope is on the horizon. This Earth Day, we’ve picked seven environmental documentaries showing incredible responses to our world’s most pressing issues. Which one moves you the most?

Seaspiracy (above)

2021

Directed by Ali Tabrizi

About: Overfishing

After this poignant examination of the global fishing industry, sustainable fisheries and ocean destruction, you may never look at tuna salad the same way. Seaspiracy leaves a lasting impression.

Watch on Netflix.

Sir David Attenborough’s Life on our Planet

2020

Directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonathan Hughes, Keith Scholey

About: Conservation

Life on our Planet is David Attenborough’s ‘witness statement‘ for the environment. Tracing his 60-year career broadcasting and natural history career, he shows the steep decline in the planet’s health over his lifetime.

Watch on Netflix.

Virunga

2014

Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel

About: Poaching

What happens when brave park rangers meet dangerous animal poachers? Virunga is a powerful look at the poaching industry and those trying to stop it every day.

Watch on Netflix.

From Kurils With Love

2020

Directed by Renan Ozturk, Taylor Rees – a Tomorrow Unlocked film

About: Biodiversity

The Kuril Islands are one of the most inaccessible volcanic islands chains in the world, and they’re under threat from climate change. One man stands to protect one of nature’s last safe havens.

Waste Land

2010

Directed by Lucy Walker

About: Recycling

Not your average eco-documentary. New York-based artist Vik Muniz travels to the world’s largest garbage heap in his native Brazil. What he finds changes him and those around him forever.

Watch on Amazon.

The Plastic Age

2015

Directed by Jake Summer

About: Plastic

Plastic pollution is a severe issue, but what can we do about it? The Plastic Age demonstrates a use for the Great Pacific garbage patch: Bionic yarn. But what is it and how can it help?

The Undamaged

2018

Directed by Miha Avguštin, Rožle Bregar and Matic Oblak

About: River conservation

Building 2,700 hydroelectric dams on Europe’s rivers might seem a good idea. So why is this kayaking group fighting it? Follow the paddling protesters from Slovenia to Albania as they join locals to oppose new dams.

These sobering but powerful glimpses at Earth under threat show people acting for change. Have we missed one? Share your recommendations with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Inspired to go one step further? Donate to the Kuril Islands preservation fund set up by marine biologist Vladimir, star of From Kurils With Love.