5 Best World Environment Day Documentaries - Raindance

World Environment Day occurs every year on June 5th as a reminder to encourage the preservation of our earth. There are several documentaries that bring awareness to matters like climate change, pollution, global warming, and so on. Let’s dive in a little deeper and examine five documentaries made within the last decade that best showcase these environmental issues.

Chasing Ice (2012)

Chasing Ice is a heart wrenching documentary that shows beautiful and haunting footage of the negative effects climate change has on glaciers, and its surrounding landscape all over the world. It focuses primarily on the work of James Balog, an American photographer, who conducts an experiment to prove to the world that climate change is indeed real. After docking cameras in places like in Iceland, Greenland, Montana, and Alaska, Balog captures irrefutable evidence that shows landscape shifting and glaciers melting.

“We don’t have a problem with economics, technology and public policy. We have a problem of perception because not enough people really get it yet.” -James Balog

A Plastic Ocean (2016)

Part of the Raindance 2017 programme, A Plastic Ocean follows a group of researchers who set out on the big blue to study whales, but their excursion is blocked by mass amounts of plastic that pollute the sea. They discover that when plastic enters the sea and breaks into small particles it is essentially indestructible. Overtime it is consumed by sea creatures and later consumed by humans. Not only does the documentary highlight the negative effects plastic has on sea life, but humans too. It also suggests ways of making improvements to ensure greater human health and a safer environment for sea life.

“Even if you don’t live near the ocean, chances are your plastic garbage has found its way to the sea.” -Tanya Streeter

Mission Blue (2014)

This documentary is centred around marine biologist, Sylvia Earle’s life’s work. The vastness of the ocean forces humans to believe that they can never do anything to harm it, yet they are the leading cause for its severe damage and decay. However, over time the population of fish and other sea creatures continue to decrease as a result of human activity whether it be from overfishing or pollution. The display of Earle’s work is not only to show that she made ground breaking discoveries as a female scientist, but is meant to advocate her life’s goal which is to preserve the ocean in the same way we preserve our land.

“They’ve been living here for millions of years. We’re newcomers in their backyard. I love being a part of their world. They’re completely innocent of anything humans do.” -Sylvia Earle

Bluefin (2016)

This Best Documentary Feature at Raindance 2017 nominee is filmed in North Lake, Prince Edward Island, Canada and focuses on Bluefin tuna questioning their strange willingness to interact with humans. In this part of the world there is an abundance of these large fish, and they are regularly caught for sushi which is a multi-million-dollar market. The population of the Bluefin is now rapidly decreasing, and scientists are predicting a mass extinction. Director John Hopkins showcases these beautiful fish and emphasizes that soon they will face their demise.

“It’s about how much stuff can we take, and how much stuff do we need to leave.” -Carl Safina

RiverBlue (2016)

The fashion industry is one of the world’s top markets, but most consumers are unaware of the dangers behind its manufacturing. Several toxic chemicals are spilling into rivers across the world and polluting central water supplies that people rely on for survival. This documentary, which won Best Documentary Feature at Raindance 2017, brings awareness to secretive information behind big brand names that is deliberately destroying rivers and impacting the lives of those who live near them.

“I think all corporations have to be accountable for their environmental practices. and no one, no one has the right to damage or destroy a river.” -Mark Angelo

Do you want to learn how to make documentaries that audience will engage with and festivals will select? Attend Raindance’s own Documentary Foundation Certificate, taught by Col Specter. 



Ellen was born and raised in Lawrence Kansas. In her third year of studying at the University of Kansas, she is majoring in Communications and minoring in Business. Currently she is an intern at Raindance Film Festival where she monitors the Raindance Toronto Twitter account. Her aspirations lie within the entertainment industry where she dreams of working behind the scenes in event management or marketing.