4 feel-good documentaries to inspire you

Shinta Noorsyahbani

Content Specialist at Regreener

Watching documentaries can be a powerful catalyst for change, as they provide different perspectives to understand and connect with the world. Bringing audiences inside stories or communities that they’re not familiar with is important; it provokes a dialogue and can inspire people to take action.

The wake-up call to our climate crisis has been growing in the last decade. However, this also came with the doom narrative that is being fed by the very real issues that we face and by the fact that we hear about climate problems almost predominantly.

It’s hard to not let yourself get carried away these days, but it’s important to also be talking about evidence-based solutions. As Elin Kelsey – a climate change educator and author – states: ‘when it comes to talking about the climate crisis, being hopeless is to be uninformed’. Educating yourselves by looking at evidence-based-solutions is the first step to start your positive climate journey, and that’s where we come in!

Why 'feel-good?'

Some people are afraid that if individuals become too hopeful, ‘unconcern’ will be cultivated during a time when you need urgent action. However, literature shows us that it’s actually the opposite.

Feeling helpless tends to make people feel isolated and disempowered, which can make you lose your motivation and give up. On the contrary, feeling hopeful tends to make people feel courageous and persistent, making them more likely to stay and do the difficult work.

Elin Kelsey voiced: “I’m not trying in any way to say we don ’t have urgent issues. We absolutely do. Bus this disempowering narrative of hopelessness is taking us in the exact opposite direction of where we need to be heading”.

Both documentaries and peaceful marches help educate different audiences, which can help build public and political will for climate action.

The (must-watch) climate documentaries that we’ve selected, we believe, will help widen your overall understanding of climate change and sustainable living. They are a reminder of our actions and its impact to our planet, and how scientists, activists, and every day citizens can fight together for the earth’s future. Hopefully, after watching, you’ll be left feeling inspired and ready to make a change in your own community!


1. The Biggest little farm - Netflix
An American couple, the Chesters, chose to return to nature after receiving an eviction notice from their tiny LA apartment for the barking of their beloved dog. Having decided to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles afterwards, we follow their successes and failures as they attempt to create their own self-sufficient ecosystem. As you’ll see in this documentary; it is truly possible for us humans to live in harmony with nature.

2. 2040 – Youtube
Director Damond Gameau’s determination to search for climate solutions was driven by hope for his daughter’s future. This innovative documentary explores the concept of what the future would look like by the year 2040 if we embraced the best solutions that are already available to us to improve our planet. He creates a vision board for his daughter and the planet, structured as a visual letter to his 4-year-old daughter.

3. David Attenborough: A life on our planet - Netflix
This documentary is a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations. Here, David Attenborough reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen. Ultimately, it all comes down to saving ourselves. “The truth is, with or without us, the natural world will rebuild” - David Attenborough.

4. Chasing Tomorrow - Youtube
This Youtube documentary by French filmmakers Melanie Laurent and Cyril Dion has an optimistic view on how to tackle today’s climate challenges. By seeking out creative alternatives to our current norms of education, energy and economics, they are able to inspire people to make local changes and use the power of numbers to create impact on a global scale.

If you want to educate yourself more on the topic but are in search of documentaries that have a more classic & direct feel, here are some of our recommendations: Before The Flood, Against the Current, A plastic Ocean, RiverBlue.

Wrapping Up

Watching a documentary is an easy, low effort way to gain more knowledge in a short period of time. We think it’s important to stay educated on this topic regularly, as it will hopefully inspire us to take action.

Also, it’s not naive to be hopeful about climate change. Actually, it’s the only responsible attitude, Elin Kelsey says. Hope matters, and changing the way we think is critical to solve the environmental crisis.

Read more

Recommended article 1 --> Elin Kelsey: ‘To be hopeless is to be uninformed’
Recommended article 2 --> 20 Climate, nature, and environment documentaries you must see in 2020
Recommended article 3 --> Benefits of watching documentaries

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