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Green Tips: The Environment on the Big and Small Screens

Green Tips | April 9, 2020

Social distancing at home doesn’t mean that you have to lose your connection to the environment. You might even find yourself with some extra time on your hands. Many Americans are turning to movies and TV to stay busy and entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we put together a list of environmentally themed movies that will inspire you to make every day Earth Day. Stay engaged by checking out these flicks:

FernGully: The Last Rainforest
1992 • Animation/Fantasy • 1h 16m • Rated G

Crysta is a tiny fairy who lives in a rainforest called FernGully and has never seen a human before. When a logging company makes its way through the forest, she meets her first human being, Zak, and accidentally shrinks him! Through his adventures alongside Crysta, he comes to see the beauty of the rainforest and all its inhabitants. Wishing to stop the destruction and help save the forest, Zak, Crysta, and the animals of the rainforest team up together to take down the logging company. 

Where to watch: Rent it on Google Play or stream on Hulu.

2009 • Sci-fi/Action • 2h 42m • Rated PG-13

On the planet of Pandora live the Na’vi, a highly evolved, intelligent group of beings that live in harmony with nature. Although Pandora’s environment is poisonous, Na’vi hybrids called Avatars are able to freely move around the planet through linked consciousness with humans. Jake Sully, a paralyzed ex-Marine residing on Pandora, becomes mobile again thanks to an Avatar. The two become close and he comes to see the destruction of Pandora by humans. Determined to do something about it, he joins the fight with the other Na’vi to save the planet. 

Where to watch: Rent it on Google Play, YouTube, Amazon Prime, or stream on Disney+.

1982 • Documentary/Experimental • 1h 27m • Not Rated

The title Koyaanisqatsi comes from the Hopi word meaning “life out of balance.” This documentary displays how humanity has grown apart from nature. Take note: this experimental film lacks narration and dialogue, telling its story through imagery and music (scored by Phillip Glass). The footage features natural landscapes and elemental forces, giving way to scenes of modern civilization and technology. It might seem a bit abstract at first, but give it a chance—it’s sure to mesmerize you!

Where to watch: Rent it on iTunes or Amazon Prime.

Erin Brockovich
2000 • Drama • 2h 12m • Rated R

Based on the true story of how Erin Brockovich, a single mother of three working in a legal office, takes down a California power company for polluting a city’s water supply. After coming across the medical records of a local woman who was treated by PG&E doctors, Brockovich discovers many others who have similar illnesses. As she begins to put the pieces together, she’s led to uncover the cause of the community’s health problems and a shocking, decades-long corporate cover-up.

Where to watch: Rent on Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime, or stream on Hulu.

Saving Jamaica Bay

2016 • Documentary • 1h 16m • Not Rated

Saving Jamaica Bay tells the story of how one community fought government inaction and overcame Hurricane Sandy to clean up and restore the largest open space in New York City, which had become a dumping ground for garbage, sewage and bullet-riddled mobsters. Narrated by Academy-Award winning actress Susan Sarandon, the 77-minute documentary underscores the importance of citizen action and the role of urban nature in protecting our cities from the effects of climate change.

Where to watch: Through May 1, 2020, New Yorkers can  watch this documentary for free at or Educators can also arrange for videoconferences with the filmmakers and Jamaica Bay advocates by contacting the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy at

Blue Planet I & Blue Planet II
2001 • 2017 • Documentary • Rated TV-PG

This binge-worthy series, narrated by David Attenborough, documents the beauty and complexities of the expansive marine environment of our planet. Two-thirds of the world’s surface is covered with water, and scientists continue to learn new information about Earth’s marine environment every day. In this series, you’ll travel across the globe to learn about the denizens of the water, from the gigantic blue whale to microscopic coral polyps. We certainly recommend this show if you’re itching for adventure right now! Escape in the breathtaking imagery of our beautiful planet that this documentary provides. 

Where to watch: Stream on BBC America.

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