• Kara Richardson

Need something new to binge-watch? Here are 6 shows to help you learn about sustainability.


Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

I love a good show, and since I've been at home during the pandemic, I've had quite a few to choose from. Somehow, I've let my family convince me that Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+ are all worthwhile investments right now, and while I might fuss about the bills, I would probably miss the options. Fortunately, there are educational ways you can actually put all those subscription services to good use. So instead of binging 'Tiger King' for the 1000th time this weekend, consider watching one of these 6 shows designed to teach you about the environment, its current state of crisis and how to live sustainably in it. I've watched them and I promise you, some of them are actually quite funny. But one thing's for certain: you'll definitely be shocked.


National Geographic's Rogue Trip, 2020, 1 Season (6 Episodes) Available on Disney+


Mom was watching Good Morning America one day and found out about this show, and as I started watching the episodes, I was immediately hooked. "National Geographic's Rogue Trip" chronicles ABC News journalist Bob Woodruff and his son as they revisit some of the conflict zones he had toured as a war reporter. War is hard but in Rogue Trip, you're introduced the beauty and the value of the land and the people in it. I've visited Papua New Guinea before and was happy to see this beautiful land as one of the episodes. This series also showcases what is happening to sustain life and culture in areas once ravaged by conflict. And as each episode pulled me deeper in love with this earth, I couldn't help but be reminded of how renewal, whether it's from the earth or from people, is not just possible. It's necessary.


Down to Earth with Zac Efron, 2020, 1 Season (8 Episodes) Available on Netflix


Who doesn't like a good Zac Efron show? And if I wasn't already crushing on him from High School Musical or The Greatest Showman, I'm seriously admiring him for his efforts to learn more about how different countries are getting this environmental thing down right. In "Down to Earth with Zac Efron", Zac Efron and Darin Olien tour the earth, finding out more about how different countries are harnessing their natural resources to create healthier, more sustainable environments to live in. They go a lot of different places and try a lot of different things and it's seriously funny to watch Zac burst out of his Americanized bubble. But besides all of that, I love this series because it gives me hope that we can ACTUALLY figure out what we have to do to save the planet.


Our Planet, 2019, 1 Season (8 Episodes) Available on Netflix


I woke up one day to this series playing and I was instantly mesmerized. "Our Planet" is a reminder of the beauty that lies beyond what we see when we live in urban areas. I can just sit and watch this and marvel at the beauty of the earth. It's inspirational when you think about it. Once you see the marvels of the world, your natural response should be to protect it at all costs.


Planet of the Humans, 2019 (Movie)

Available on YouTube


Y'all. "Planet of the Humans" is deep. Like, 'deep' deep. Like, militant, 'I'm ready to take on all environmental injustices' deep. And I'll be honest: before I watched this movie, I had this warm and fluffy view of environmental activism. It's easy to say, "let's save the rainforest", or "let's recycle these bottles", but when you find out that those systems are flawed, where do you go from there? What do we do when all of the organizations that we thought you were really fighting the good fight are actually fueling the flames of the problem? This movie, while leaving me feeling a bit defeated, is necessary, because it helps to understand how you can personally approach this current environmental crisis. Change is possible, but watching this shows you that we have to go about it a different way.


Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, 2014 (Movie) Available on Netflix


"Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret" is about super-farming and the conspiracy behind how much this industry actually pollutes our environment. For those who don't know, 'super-farming' is the industry that will destroy good, usable land to mass produce an animal to slaughter for our ever-growing meat supply. I'll be honest: when I started watching this movie I was half-sleep, having just gotten off of work. But after it got into the topics of super-farming and actually how much a cow can pollute our air, I quickly woke up. It didn't hurt that there was a little political drama in this movie. There was murder, animal slaughter and the original production company even jumped ship! I promise, I'm seriously thinking about veganism after this one.


The Biggest Little Farm, 2018 (Movie) Available on Hulu


"The Biggest Little Farm" is a movie is about a couple that sets out on an adventure to start and run a sustainable farm, one that harnesses nature and gives back more than it takes from the earth. When I started my urban garden on the side of the house, I knew I didn't want to use any pesticides, natural or otherwise. I believe that everything has a benefit, and that what I couldn't grow I would just buy from my local farmers market. But this movie took my theories to a whole different level, and while I still believe that our gardens can live in harmony with the earth, this movie made me feel like we are in one big, natural fight with the circle of life. Watch this movie if you're not squeamish about animals and have every had thoughts of owning your own natural farm (like me). It will either push you closer to doing it, or drive you far, far away.


What are you going to watch first? As soon as you get done, let us know what you think in the comments below. And if you've watched anything that we've missed here, make sure to let us know so we can catch up with you.

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