It’s Earth Day, and you’re looking for a movie the whole family can enjoy – you’re in luck because I’ve compiled a list of the best Earth Day Movies! Watching movies about environmental issues is not just about being informed about global warming or the loss of natural habitats; it’s about feeling connected to these issues enough so that you want to act on them!
For me, the most impactful films are those that do more than just present a problem—they urge us to reflect and to find better ways to coexist with Mother Earth. So, with every animated movie enchanting young viewers or a documentary unravelling the complexities of our ecosystems, there’s potential for a seed of environmental consciousness to be planted.
The Earth Day movies on this list have a lot to offer:
- They’re educational: These environmental films can teach people of all ages about planet Earth and inspire them to protect it.
- They motivate change: The stories from the natural world in these movies can inspire us to take action against global warming and environmental destruction.
- They’re entertaining and meaningful: From animated films for kids to eye-opening documentaries for adults, these movies provide both entertainment and a chance to make a difference for a greener future.
Celebrating Mother Earth Through Movies
These movies can help us understand why it’s important to take care of the environment. Some are animated and some are serious, but they all make us feel something and help us see the importance of protecting our planet. A good animated example of this is The Lorax, which uses fun characters and animation to teach kids about saving forests.
Then there are documentaries that show us the reality of environmental degradation without sugar coating things. They make us confront the issues happening right now. Films like An Inconvenient Truth present hard-hitting facts combined with the human element of Al Gore passionately pleading with us to motivate change.
These stories, whether they show melting ice caps or a single polar bear’s journey, keep the global conversation on climate action going. Watching Earth Day films becomes more than just a tradition; it’s a great way to spark desire for a better-informed and more conscious public, ready to act for our shared home.
Good Earth Day Movies for Kids
Animated movies use captivating main characters to grab a child’s attention and sneak in those important life lessons. Let’s talk about ‘Bee Movie,’ (Netflix) for example. It’s like a beehive of activity, full of jokes and fun. But behind all the laughs, it’s actually teaching kids about the crucial role bees play in keeping our Earth healthy. When Barry B. Benson challenges the norm, kids’ eyes widen and they realize how every creature has a part to play in our ecosystem. Cool, right?
Then there’s ‘The Lorax,’ another classic environmentally conscious movie for kids. They absolutely love its vibrant and whimsical Seussian world. But beyond the truffula trees and playful creatures, ‘The Lorax’ sends a powerful message about how our actions affect nature. It helps young viewers grasp the importance of speaking up for those who can’t, such as the trees. These movies aren’t just for fun; they actually spark meaningful conversations about how we can be better stewards of our planet
Speaking of kids, these Earth Day Color by Word + Number are super cute and perfect to add into your day’s lesson plan / activities!
Animated Earth Day Movies
These are some fantastic movies with important messages for all of us to take in that are perfect for the next family movie night. Older kids will enjoy some of these too (Ice Age has probably 5 sequels, and is pretty popular with teens!). Common Sense Media has an additional list of movies that teach kids about climate change here.
- ‘Happy Feet’ (Netlfix): It’s an adorable story about Mumble the penguin who shows us how our actions affect marine life and why it’s important to dance to our own tune to protect the environment.
- ‘Ice Age’ (Disney +): This classic takes us back to prehistoric times, following Manny and his friends on a funny and adventurous journey. It also reminds us of the impact of climate change and the power of friendship.
- ‘Wall-E’ (Disney +): You’ll fall in love with the lovable robot in this movie. It’s a cautionary tale about waste management (or lack of!) and how our actions can harm the environment. It will definitely make you reconsider your habits and inspire renewed interest in recycling!
- ‘The Lorax’ (Prime): The story of the Lorax brings to life a tale about the danger of neglecting our natural habitats. It encourages us to speak up for the trees and everything else in our beautiful natural world.
- ‘March of the Penguins’ (Apple TV, Rent on Prime): Even though it’s a documentary film, it’s absolutely mesmerizing. It shows us the incredible lives of Emperor penguins in Antarctica, highlighting their resilience in the face of a changing climate.
- ‘Finding Nemo’ (Disney +):Most people know this one, but it’s really great to show how much life is supported in our coral reefs (and the danger of exotic animal sales =P)
Environmental Activists + Documentaries
I can’t help but be amazed when I watch ‘Erin Brockovich’ (Prime, Apple TV) and see the true story of how determined one woman can be in holding a company responsible for polluting a community’s water. Julia Roberts truly brings Erin’s character to life, showing her never-ending quest for justice for the affected families. This movie proves that one person’s unwavering spirit can uncover the truth and fight against corporate neglect. It reminds me that we all have the power to stand up for what’s right, even when the odds seem impossible.
Another great documentary is ‘I Am Greta’, about the amazing journey of climate activist Greta Thunberg. Starting from a simple school strike for climate change, her determination eventually ignited a global movement! This documentary gives you a peek into how one young person can make a real impact on environmental advocacy. It shows us the incredible power of speaking up and how even our small actions can create waves of change for our planet.
Both movies (and the ones on the list below!) show that taking action individually can inspire others to join and create a positive impact on the environment. These Oscar-winning documentaries reassure us that no matter who we are, we all have the power to be environmental heroes in our own ways.
Eye-Opening Documentaries and Mature Movies
I wouldn’t recommend most of these for kids who aren’t ready to hear about the “darker” realities of the world (atleast 12+), but they are each a great movie with an even greater message. For additional “serious” environmental films, check out earth.org
- ‘Seaspiracy’ (Netflix): This documentary dives deep into the global fishing industry to expose shocking truths about how our actions impact marine life and ecosystems. The film shows the devastating consequences of overfishing and makes us think about how our seafood choices affect the underwater world.
- ‘The Biggest Little Farm’ (Hulu): This heartwarming film follows a couple who leave the city to transform 200 acres of barren land into a diverse, self-sustaining farm. It’s all about their journey in eco-friendly agriculture and the challenges and rewards they face along the way. My 3 kids (8 and under) love this one.
- ‘Chasing Coral’ (Netflix): This visually stunning film reveals the dire situation of coral reefs worldwide. It shows how corals are disappearing at an alarming rate due to warmer seas and highlights the incredible efforts of scientists and activists fighting to protect these crucial ecosystems.
- ‘The Ivory Game’ (Netflix): This film exposes the dark world of illegal ivory trafficking and the fight to save elephants from extinction. It’s a suspenseful story that follows the courageous people risking their lives to stop this horrific trade.
- ‘Okja‘ (Netflix) – If you’re an adult and looking for a good movie that’s not all just stats and facts, then you’ll love this. With lots of familiar actors and an enearing lead duo (a girl and her new breed of super pig!), this movie looks at the horror of the industrial meat industry.
- ‘Before the Flood’ (Disney +): Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio with National Geographic, this film shines a light on the effects of climate change and the powerful interests that oppose environmental measures. It’s a reminder of the urgent need to preserve our planet for future generations.
- ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (Prime or Paramount +): Former Vice President Al Gore’s passionate crusade against global warming is captured in this groundbreaking documentary. It powerfully connects human activities to the escalating threats of climate change, urging us to take environmental stewardship seriously.
- ‘A Plastic Ocean’ (Peacock, Rent on Amazon): This film reveals the alarming reality of plastic waste in our oceans. Through investigative journalism, it shows why we need to tackle the plastic pollution crisis and the effects it has on marine life, ecosystems, and human health.
- ‘2040’ (Youtube) – Instead of focusing on the doom and gloom of what happens if we keep doing the same, this movie guides the viewer through what things could look like by 2040 if we started changing *now* by focusing on how cities and towns might look with renewable energy and regenerative practices.
- ‘David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet’ (Netflix) – Sir David Attenborough, though well loved, had a long time history of being a climate change skeptic.. this movie shows his revised views and reflections after a long life of observation and nature documentaries.
Which Inspiring Movie Will You Pick?
Don’t worry about endless searching to plan your Earth Day film marathon. Netflix, Disney+, and other streaming services have curated sections dedicated to nature and science documentaries (if you decide not to pick any from this list, of course =P) With just a few clicks, you can explore the natural world, learn about conservation, and reflect on our planet’s health — all from the comfort of your couch.
If you have kids between 4-8, you may also like to print this fun writing prompt to do together after watching/doing your movie of choice. It helps to reinforce what was learned from your Earth Day movie/book/activity in a fun way!
Other Earth Day Activity Ideas
This is a perfect time to work on encouraging a love for nature (if your kids don’t already lover her!) When people feel connected to a place, and care about it because they like, they are way more likely to to want to find a better way to take care of it!
Anyways, here are some ideas to enjoy our wonderful Earth!
- 7 Principles of Leave No Trace Printables
- Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Nest Scavenger Hunt
- Kids Printable Garden Activity Pack
- DIY Greenhouse Activity Printable
Screens Greening the Planet
You know, these eco-cinema experiences are much more than just movie nights. They’re like a tool in the environmental movement’s toolbox. They educate us, yeah, but they also give even the youngest viewers the power to make a difference for future generations.
But hey, let’s keep the conversation going! Let’s share these movies with friends, family, and especially the younger kids who will inherit this Earth. When Earth Day ends, let’s promise to turn on our commitment to preserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and living in a way that respects our environment. Together, we can forge a path to a healthier, more mindful existence — one step at a time, inspired by these films.