Have you seen that documentary about whaling in Japanese coastal towns? How about the one with Anthony Bourdain and food waste? It’s hard to keep track of all the nature and sustainability documentaries that come out each year, especially since some of them never make it to your local multiplex.
But luckily you can catch up, as the latest 2018 picks are already hitting streaming services.
We’ll update this list as more movies arrive on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Vimeo. But to start, here are four you can stream today. The documentaries cover everything from the Balkan rivers to lab-grown meat, but they all explore the wonders of the natural world — and the many ways we can work to protect it.
Presented by Patagonia, Blue Heart examines the wild rivers of the Balkans, dubbed the “blue heart of Europe.” Due to the boom in hydropower — or, electricity generated from the energy of running water — there are nearly 3,000 dams planned for this region. That has conservationists worried about the future of not just the rivers, but the animals and humans who depend on them. This documentary takes you inside the movement to preserve the “blue heart,” focusing on the activists who live alongside it.
This Australian documentary arrived stateside in the spring with a limited U.S. theater release. But now, anyone can rent this ode to outdoor adventure. Mountain follows climbers, skiers, base jumpers, and other explorers up and off peaks around the world. It gives you a front row seat to some of the most breathtaking and heart-stopping sights in nature, all with narration from Willem Dafoe.
The End of Meat
The trailer for The End of Meat begins with Esther the Wonder Pig, a supposedly micro piglet who grew into a not-remotely-micro 600lb pet. Esther changed her dads’ lives in two important ways. First, she forced them to move to a bigger space, relocating to a farm that now doubles as an animal sanctuary. Second, they inspired her to swear off meat for good.
This documentary dives into the many different ways scientists and food innovators are engineering meat replacements. Whether in labs or on farms, these companies are searching for something that could wean the world off animal products — and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
Love and Bananas
Love and Bananas shines a light on the plight of endangered Asian elephants through a dramatic rescue mission. Director Ashley Bell teams up with Lek Chailert, the conservationist known as Thailand’s elephant whisperer, to save Noi Na, a 70-year-old, partially blind elephant, from forced labor. The documentary shows the various ways Asian elephants are exploited in circuses and tourist rides, arguing for more humane treatment with the help of Chailert and the playful, thriving elephants on her Thai sanctuary.