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8 Socially conscious netflix documentaries you should watch

I've been on a big documentary kick this week, watching three documentaries in the last five days (this is what summer vacation is for, right?). I've also been more interested in ethical and conscious living recently, probably prompted by the fact that I (sort of suddenly) became a vegetarian at the beginning of the summer and I rather like it. Anyways, here are 8 of my favorite documentaries about social justice/ ethical living (all of them are on Netflix except for the last!). Documentaries may sound boring, but these ones really sucked me in and kept me on the edge of my chair due to their subject matter, story, and overall mood of urgency.



Poverty Inc. 

What it's about: How Western charity/ aid to developing countries isn't always as good as we think.

This documentary shocked me. Seriously. I felt like my understanding of the world was a little bit shaken after watching it. It's a documentary about how charity to developing countries over a long period of time can do more harm than good because 1.) it makes it impossible for a local economy to develop independently and, 2.) it reinforces the worldwide stereotype that people from developing countries, especially African countries, are helpless and in need of constant Western assistance (which definitely is not always true). It's also a really well made film that includes fascinating personal stories as well as critical looks at today's socially conscious companies such as TOMS shoes.

The True Cost 

What it's about: The true cost of the fast fashion industry when it comes to the workers' conditions.

This documentary will definitely make you think twice before going out to buy inexpensive clothes at basically any mainstream stores. As someone who loves shopping more than I can hardly explain, (and buys most her clothes from inexpensive stores like H&M, Zara, American Eagle, etc) this was definitely of a wake up call (thrift stores here I come!) as to how the Western desire for cheap clothes really ends up taking advantage of (and killing) the people who make them. 

Cowspiracy 

What it's about: How not consuming animal products is the fastest and most effective way to combat climate change.

This movie also kind of opened my eyes because I realized the huge extent to which the agricultural industry has an impact on climate change. Some studies have shown that livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In summary, this film will make you consider going vegetarian (or even vegan) if you aren't already. I also really liked the investigative style in which it was filmed, it feels kind of like you're uncovering some environmental secret.


Minimalism 

What it's about: The value of adopting a minimalist lifestyle in a culture obsessed with consumption.

This is a documentary about the guys at theminimalists.com, a well known minimalism blog. If you don't already know what minimalism is, it's the concept of only owning the things that you truly need and the things that bring you happiness. Some people really like it because they feel more free without the weight of clutter and chaos and more happy when they aren't trying to buy their way to happiness. I could relate to the stories in this film because I often find myself feeling overwhelmed when I'm surrounded by tons of clutter (i.e. all the time).

The Hunting Ground 

What it's about: The alarming rate of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses and how most colleges don't do very much (at all) to stop it and stand up for victims.

If you are a person in college, or you know a person in college, or you were once a person in college, or if you simply are a person, you need to see this documentary. It follows several girls in college who get sexually assaulted and their fight to get their universities (and the government) to expel their assaulters and start treating sexual assault as the serious issue that it is. Often, colleges cover up these crimes because they have a financial incentive to do so and end up victim blaming in the process. This will not be an easy movie to watch, but it's so important.

13th 

What it's about: the mass incarceration of black men and the racial inequality of the American prison system.

I watched this documentary several months ago, but it's still fresh in my mind when I think of the best documentaries I've seen. It also definitely taught me more about an issue I was completely uneducated about than any other movie I've seen. The mass incarceration of black men for often minor crimes started after the Civil War, when it was a way to get around the 13th amendment and use them as free labor even though slavery was technically abolished. The pattern has continued today, with 1 in 3 black men going to prison within their lifetime, compared to the 1 in 17 white men who will.


An Inconvenient Truth & An Inconvenient Sequel 

What they are about: The urgency (and reality) of climate change

An Inconvenient Truth is Al Gore's climate change documentary from 2006. He recently released the sequel, An Inconvenient Sequel, that provides updates on the issue of climate change and gives a behind the scenes look at the Paris climate agreement (before the US left). This documentary technically isn't on Netflix, but it's in theaters right now (I just saw it on Saturday) and it's really amazing! Also, it didn't leave me feeling as hopeless and filled with fear as I expected a movie about climate change to do. They made the ending really uplifting and inspiring, in fact.

Alright, those are all my documentary recommendations!! (I've been going a bit documentary crazy). I know this may be a more educational post than the typical lifestyle blog content but it's just something that's been on my mind lately. Also, I think I want to slowly start adding in some more "conscious" content to my blog, concerning ethical living and social issues, in a way that fits well into the "lifestyle" niche. Let me know what you think!

♡ Julia

18 comments

  1. Hello there! Thank you for sharing these documentaries. I've already seen two of them (Cowspiracy and The True Cost) and I was shocked but on the other hand I became more concious about the world around me. The last one looks very interesting and it's on my playlist already. :)

    Have a nice day,
    Lucie

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    1. I feel the same way! Shocking but also enlightening. Glad you found some of my suggestions to be good! Thanks for reading Lucie :)

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  2. I love a good documentary. Netflix is expanding its range all the time, which is great!

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    1. I totally agree. Thanks for reading, Anna!

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  3. I only saw Minimalist one and it was very inspiring for me. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I'm curious to see the other ones now. Thanks for the recommendations! x

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

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    1. Minimalist was so good! Definitely made me think. Thanks for reading, Leta!

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  4. I haven't heard about any of these documentaries but they all sound very interesting and thought provoking especially The True Cost! x

    LAURA ­| Laura Thinks About

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    1. Thanks, Laura! Glad you found it helpful. And yeah the True Cost is super interesting-- definitely makes you think twice before buying cheap clothes. (Hard for me-- I love clothes shopping!)

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  5. Ooooh I love a good documentary as well! You picked some really interesting themes Julia! The first thing I watched on Netflix when I got it a couple years ago where the Planet Earth series. I would love to see An Inconvenient Truth pt. 1 and pt. 2!

    Love, Layla Rosita | www.laylarosita.com 

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    1. Oooh I've seen the Planet Earth series, I believe. Really beautiful! Thanks for reading, Layla and glad you liked it :)

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  6. I absolutely love documentaries, they're one of my favourite things to watch. I think off of these sound compelling but I'm not sure I'll be able to watch the climate change ones, they tend to get me into a blind panic!

    Rosy | Sparkles of Light Blog
    My Instagram | Instagram

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    1. Aw yeah I often feel that way about climate change stuff- can be pretty scary to hear how dire our situation is. But I'd really suggest an Inconvenient Sequel for you then, because it's actually really inspiring and uplifting (suprisingly!) especially at the end!

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  7. been watching the inconvenient truth since its release and it never fail to impress me! i hope i could catch up with the inconvenient sequel soon. also i've been wanting to watch minimalism for quite some time. thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Thank YOU for reading, Tannya! Both an Inconvenient Sequel and Minimalism are really good! I hope you enjoy them. :)

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  8. Check out Sharkwater!! so so good about sharks and the fin industry and enviromental issues

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  9. And as time has gone on and technology has improved Netflix streaming service has kept improving consistently. Howtogetamericannetflix

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  10. I can't wait to watch some of these - Netflix has great documentaries to offer actually I wasn't aware of it. Thank you for sharing :)

    Margaux / www.bonjourwhite.com

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  11. well you can rapidly compel your conscious mind back on track to the main job. Subconscious mind creates reality

    ReplyDelete

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I’m a 19-year old college student who’s still very much “in bluhm” (heh) but I’m figuring it out as I go, laptop in hand.
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