In the past few months, many of us have found ourselves with extra free time as we quarantine at home and have been searching for ways to pass the time. And while these past few months have been a great time to perfect bread recipes and catch up with friends or family, it is also a great time to expand our knowledge about topics we might not ordinarily be interested in, or have the time to learn about. There are a plethora of movies, books and podcasts on a wide range of topics related to the environment that are sure to inspire the environmentalist in anyone. Below are some recommendations perfect for anyone with some free time on their hands.
This film that highlights the extent of plastic pollution in our world’s oceans and its devastating effect on marine life is the product of a partnership between journalist Craig Leeson and free diver Tanya Streeter. The pair and a team of international scientists spent four years and travelled to over 20 locations to document the fragile state of our oceans. The film provides a previously unseen look at the more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently floating in our world’s oceans and its impact on our delicate marine life.
Gasland by Josh Fox is a personal favorite of mine, and I credit the film for sparking my interest in environmental work. The film follows filmmaker Josh Fox as he travels around the country speaking with individuals and families whose lives were impacted by natural gas drilling, specifically by way of fracking (hydraulic fracturing). After being asked to sell his family’s land in Pennsylvania to a natural gas drilling company, Fox embarks on a journey to discover how natural gas drilling is affecting communities around the country. While I would describe the film as a bit quirky, as it perfectly features the unconventional personality and filmmaking technique of Fox, it is an excellent source of information regarding the history of fracking in the United States and the destructive effects the process has upon the environment and humans alike.
This film takes an in depth look at factory farming in the United States, and how the current state of food production is taking a toll on the environment and consumers. Possibly one of the most well-known documentaries on the food industry, director Robert Kenner investigates the industrial production of meat (beef, chicken, and pork), grains and vegetables, and argues that the process is unsustainable and harmful to all those involved in the process. Food, Inc. is a powerful film that may make you rethink your next trip to the grocery store!
This film by Ellen Page provides an intimate look into the impacts of environmental racism on residents of Nova Scotia. The film, inspired by a book by Ingrid Waldron, investigates how black and indigenous communities in Nova Scotia are disproportionately subject to pollution and the subsequent health issues that arise as a result of exposure to toxins in the air and water. The power and impact of the film comes from the devastating testimonies from those directly affected by environmental racism and pollution in their communities.
Silent Spring is the quintessential book about environmental advocacy, a must read for any environmentalist. Rachel Carson draws from private scientific research, federal documents, and testimonies from ordinary people to demonstrate how the use of a pesticide called DDT was causing damage to wildlife, primarily birds. Though her brave testament to the dangers of pesticide use had her vilified by those who wanted to silence her, Silent Spring remains one of the most important and most read environmental books of all time.
Columnist and editor David Wallace-Wells details the past, present and future of life in the time of anthropogenic global warming. In only 200 pages, Wallace-Wells is able to convey the urgency of change needed to curb climate change and what could happen if the earth continues to warm. While the book certainly gives a stark warning, one that will inspire action in any reader.
In How to Give Up Plastic, Greenpeace advocate Will McCallum gives an accessible guide to removing disposable plastic from our lives. By going from room to room in both your home and workplace, McCallum teaches readers how to spot disposable plastic items and replace them with reusable alternatives. This book provides easy ways to rid your life of plastic.
Originally a weekly radio show, Deconstructing Dinner is committed to expanding awareness of the origins of food and how food production can transform communities. The series takes an in-depth look into the production of food, pesticide use, GMO’s and other issues facing the food production industry.
This award-winning podcast was created and is hosted by Jared Blumfeld, whose resumé includes, among other titles, California Secretary of the EPA and former Regional Administrator of the EPA for the Southwest under the Obama Administration. In this series Blumfeld covers a wide range of environmental topics and issues, utilizing his extensive knowledge of the environment in the United States.
This uplifting series is hosted by former (and first female) Irish President Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins, celebrating women who are doing remarkable things in the pursuit of an end to climate change. As women are more likely to be negatively affected by climate change, this podcast highlights the amazing women who are spearheading change in the world of environmental advocacy. Each week Robinson and Higgins speak with a guest host who is driving climate innovation, from leaders of grassroots organizations to lawyers to advocates.