They say knowledge is power, and since the beginning of this year when I began to question why North Americans live the way we do, I found watching documentaries to be the first step in gaining an understanding of how our consumer habits are killing ourselves and the planet. The more educated I became, the more empowered I felt to actually make positive changes in my life. The following five documentaries were all ones I found on Netflix. I would absolutely encourage anyone to look these up and begin the journey to a life of less.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
This was the first documentary I’d watched in years. Somehow Netflix suggested it and I ended up watching the whole thing. An Australian man named Joe has become quite ill because of his eating habits, so he travels to America and consumes only fruit and vegetable juices for 60 days in order to reboot his health by providing his body with the nutrients it had been starved of for decades. This documentary helped me reassess my own eating habits and realize how I was not giving my body the proper fuel it needed to make it through the day without feeling fatigued. Keeping your body healthy is not about cutting calories and working out more – it’s about giving yourself proper nutrition.
That Sugar Film
This documentary follows Damon as he discovers the horrific effects of sugar consumption. Damon had not consumed added and refined sugar in over three years when he decided to consume the average Australian daily intake of sugar (I believe it was 40 teaspoons per day) for six weeks. The catch was that he didn’t eat any foods which are considered to be unhealthy or junk foods like chocolate bars and pop – he instead got his daily dose of sugar through foods which we believe to be “healthy” options, like smoothies. I’ve known for quite some time that I’m addicted to sugar, and this film gave me a better understanding of how that happened, inspiring me to further reconsider my food choices.
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
This documentary truly inspires a life of less as it follows two friends on their book tour while they share how minimalism changed their lives. If you don’t allow consumerism, advertising and the media to shape your desires and goals for what you want to achieve in life, you begin to understand how a life of less can truly be the most rewarding way to live. If your worldly possessions are keeping you from experiencing all that life has to offer you, you’re quite simply doing life wrong. Watching this film encouraged me to assess why I hold on to all my possessions, and I’ve since donated piles of clothes and “things” which didn’t add value to my life. There are some awesome minimalist challenges on Pinterest if you’re not sure where to start.
The True Cost
After donating nearly half of my clothes which did not “spark joy” in my life, I watched The True Cost. This documentary exposes the dangers of the fast-fashion industry and its harmful effects on workers and the environment. It’s likely the clothes you’re wearing right now were created by underpaid garment workers, in poor working conditions, in an impoverished country where the factories have horrific effects on the ecosystems. Once you understand the true cost of the fashion industry, and how countless workers are treated poorly just so you can buy a cheap shirt, you’ll want to find ethical clothing brands who are working to solve this issue. It’s not easy to find clothing companies who are perfectly ethical and sustainable, but as Bea Johnson would say, when you buy, you vote. Your decision to support smaller fashion companies who, for example, ensure their garment workers are paid fair wages, you’re refusing to buy and support the destructive fast fashion industry.
A Plastic Ocean
I never really thought about the extremely negative influence of plastic until I watched this documentary. Cory came into the room mid-film to find me sobbing uncontrollably. It was intense. I hadn’t considered how all the plastic that has ever been fabricated still exists in some form today. Plastic can never truly break down, no matter how many centuries go by. This film pushed me to reevaluate the landfill waste and recycling which leaves our apartment every month. I’ve since been inspired by the zero-waste movement and have been replacing the products and foods in our home with more sustainable alternatives.
What I’ve learned from these documentaries is that there is no true formula for every individual to be happy. For me, I want to fuel my body with nutritious foods, I want to surround myself with possessions which bring me joy, I want to support ethical fashion companies, I want to decrease my plastic consumption and waste, and I want to leave this planet knowing I did what I believe is right instead of falling into the trap of consumerism and convenience.
I’ll be sharing a lot more about my own progress as I transition to a more minimalist and low-waste lifestyle. If you’re anything like me, watching these films will inspire you to do everything you possibly can to eat clean or become a minimalist or create less waste… but let me first tell you: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Any major lifestyle change takes time and transition. Start with smaller changes in your life, and gradually gear up to the extremes. Going cold turkey on household waste or donating all of your possessions in one day isn’t going to work. It will take time to discover what changes will work for you, and if you live with someone else, you’ll also need to consider how they may not be all-in like you are!
Have you seen any of these documentaries? I’d love to hear your thoughts!