6 Best Conservation Movies for the Whole Family
We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn affiliate commission.
It can be hard for anyone, child or adult, to believe in conservation and climate change when those in power are continually denying its existence. Thankfully, plenty of amazing movies and documentaries can introduce everyone to the idea of conservation, regardless of their age.
Here is a list of six of the best conservation movies you can watch with the entire family.
1. Fern Gully — The Last Rainforest
Message: The Impact of Deforestation
Fern Gully is a fun animated movie that follows a fairy, Crysta, who has to fight to protect her forest home when humans come in to cut down the trees. In their ignorance, the humans cut down a sacred tree that has acted as a jail cell for a pollution spirit named Hexus — voiced by the always amazing Tim Curry — letting him use the humans to attack Fern Gully.
This movie may be fun and animated with a voice cast that even adults can appreciate, but it carries a powerful message about the impacts of deforestation. Your kids won’t even realize they’re learning about conservation as they’re singing along with Robin Williams and Tim Curry.
2. Happy Feet
Message: The Dangers of Overfishing
This movie will have even the adults tapping their feet. Mumble, an Emperor Penguin, can’t sing like the rest of his family, so he expresses himself through dancing. Of course, the penguin elders look down on him because of this, so he tries to earn back his place by leaving to find out why there are no more fish left for the penguins to eat.
The underlying message of the movie is that humans have been overfishing the waters around Antarctica, taking away the food supply of the penguins. This is a massive problem in today’s world, but watching Happy Feet is an easy way to teach kids about it.
3. An Inconvenient Truth/An Inconvenient Sequel
Message: The Impact of Humans on Climate Change
This movie and its sequel get a lot of bad press because it is the brain-child of former Vice President Al Gore, but both films do a fantastic job of presenting the topic of climate change and its impact in a simple, easy-to-understand way. This makes it a perfect choice for both children and adults who may not understand what climate change is or how it will affect us in the long run.
It might be a little bit too serious for very young audiences, but for any children or adults interested in climate change, this movie should be on your watch list.
4. Plastic China
Message: The Impact of Plastic Waste Globally
This is one story many children might be able to empathize with. It follows an 11-year-old girl who works in one of the many waste processing towns in China. It’s a slice of life that will smack you in the face with the impact that plastic waste has on the world at large.
This one can be hard to watch for both adults and children, but it can also spark an essential conversation about recycling with your children.
Message: Why It’s Important to Take Care of the Planet
Wall-E’s titular character is a robot that has a single task — collect and compact garbage to try to restore the planet humanity has destroyed. He’s been alone on the earth for hundreds of years until a probe robot named Eve, sent by the last remaining humans, appears and finds proof that the planet is inhabitable again — a single plant, located in a fridge, growing happily in an old boot.
The whole message of this movie is that if we don’t take care of the planet, it will no longer be able to support us. While it’s funny to hear the captain of the spaceship talk about growing pizza plants, it’s a stark reminder that this is the only planet we have, and it won’t survive if we continue to treat it the way we are now.
6. Fly Away Home
Message: The Importance of Animal Conservation
In this feel-good movie, Amy — played by a young Anna Paquin — finds an abandoned nest of goose eggs that are nearly destroyed by construction equipment. She saves them, and she and her father raise the young goslings. But once they reach maturity, they run into another problem — if the geese are going to be released into the wild, they need to learn how to migrate.
Amy and her father take to the skies — literally — in ultralights to lead these geese along the migration path. It’s a fantastic movie based on a true story and shows that humans can make a difference without keeping these animals in a zoo or rescue. Animal conservation is just as important as any other form of protection, and this movie does a fantastic job of portraying that.
Conservation shows don’t all have to be bland documentaries. We have plenty of options to teach our little ones about conservation and being environmentally friendly without scaring them away or boring them to tears. Take a look at some of the movies on our list and see how you can start the conversation about conservation with your own children.
About the author
Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.