Documentaries to Watch, Part 1: Compulsive Consumption

conscious consumer

As a consumer in this capitalistic society, it’s hard to make the right choices. It’s harder still when you begin to learn the consequences of your choices. These documentaries cover some of the most used and abused items in all our lives. And the most damaging.

1 The True Cost


So, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter of the planet, next to the oil industry. (I’m not sure where factory farming comes in…third?) It also exploits millions of people around the world, up and down every garment’s supply chain. This entire industry is such an indictment of our ability to take something that is a necessity and turn it into an exploitative, destructive industry that people happily, voluntarily support.

But maybe there is hope? The first comment under the trailer in YouTube is this:

But one out of 7.5 billion? Or, 270 out of 7.5 billion? Remember, clothes are something everyone on earth wears. Every one.

2. Bag It

Do you still use plastic bags? Why?! Watch this if you cannot understand what plastic bags are doing to the world. A great thing about this one, is that it offers practical solutions. But, equally great is the fact that we won’t listen. Ha!

3. Tapped

Do you still use plastic bottled water? Why?!

Wasted resources, damaged environments, poison. And we actually pay good money to buy water that someone else has bottled from the tap – which is where we were getting our water to begin with.

Tapped also showcases the terrible social and economic toll of the plastic bottle industry.

Basically, there is not one single reason for us to continue using these things. Are you listening?

4. Trashed

Ok. If you thought numbers 1 to 3 were depressing, wait for this one. It’s a near-fatal punch to the gut. I understand that the truth is only palatable by some (very few) people, and I get it. There are different ways to communicate the same message, and different types of people understand different versions of the same message. That is true of human nature. You could be put off by this, so consider yourself warned.

But if you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then watch this.

And then go curl up under your bed and sob your life away.


5. The Lightbulb Conspiracy

I hate built-in obsolescence. I truly hate the concept, and the folks who thought it up are the absolute worst.

The Lightbulb Conspiracy is the story of the Light Bulb Cartel, who, starting in the 1920s, deliberately made their products fail so they could sell more of them. Kinda like the plumber who only half-fixes your tap, and then comes back when you call him in desperation as your bathroom floods. Of course this strategy has been refined and honed over the decades since, and now we all buy a new cell phone every two years, a new laptop every four years, and a new car every five. It’s de rigueur. Thanks, Apple and Samsung, the leading lights of 21st century planned obsolescence.

6. The Slow Poisoning of India 

India uses a lot of pesticides. Not only do we use them, we also make them. And we destroy not just ourselves, but other species in the ecology. The Slow Poisoning of India by Ramesh Menon is about the effects of Endosulfan use on farmers in Kerala – and on their children. The film also touches upon the Punjab story.

The only viable solution to this? Go organic. The film ends on a positive note, showing farmers who have switched to organic farming. It’s better for us from every angle – health, finances, politics. And it’s ideal for the environment, and the local ecology.

Want a quick guide to help you make deliberate, conscious purchases? Click here (or the image below) to download it.

how to be a conscious consumer

Bonus educational material (affiliate links):

Ok, so that’s all the bad news I have for now. The next in this series is even worse: it’s about how we treat animals. Parental guidance advised.

documentary guide to being a CONSCIOUS CONSUMER

Part 2: Animal Planet? 

Part 3: On Climate Change

2 Comment

  1. […] On with the second, very delayed edition of The Ultimate Documentary Guide to Being a Conscious Consumer. (First edition is here.) […]

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