Gardening & Sustainability

Environmental Documentaries are Making me Cry

Unless you are new to my blog (which in that case welcome and happy to have you here) you know that lately I have been getting really into sustainability, eco-friendly habits and anything really related to helping save the planet. Part of the journey has been education and teaching myself about different products, different ways of living and the consumption of general green content, aka I’ve been really into green related documentaries.

The first documentary, docu-series in this case, that I watched, which didn’t make me cry, was Zac Efron’s Down to Earth on Netflix. This show was amazing and I really recommend watching it! It does a great job of presenting a lot of really interesting information in a really fun way and the best part is they are hour-long episodes, each one tackling a different topic.

One of my friends who isn’t even necessarily into any of the green movements stumbled across the show, without me saying anything, and texted me telling me to watch it. So, even if green living or sustainability isn’t really your thing, you will find something to take away from this series.

They do an episode on water and I talked to that friend I mentioned just a few days ago and she still hasn’t stopped thinking about the water she drinks.

But I digress, this blog post is supposed to be about documentaries making me cry, or at least teary, and although Down to Earth was super fun to watch, it didn’t make me emotional it just made me really interested in finding other green documentaries.

I didn’t get emotional until I watched The Biggest Little Farm.

Now before I get into this, I just want to say, although I feel things deeply I normally don’t show them externally. Friends, family, and memories can make me cry, but very few movies or television shows do. And the ones that can make me tear up normally hit on a very specific feeling or memory that I can relate to. That is why these documentaries caught me off guard and that is why I decided to write this post. I wanted to not only share these awesome documentaries but explore why they touched me the way they did and see if I can process it and properly verbalize it.

I first learned about The Biggest Little Farm on the Scrubs re-watch podcast, Fake Doctors, Real Friends. They had a guest call in that was selling her company to start her own sustainable farm with her husband. She said this was something she and her husband had always talked about doing in retirement, but like many of us when COVID happened they started looking at the life they had been living in contrast to the life they wanted and decided why wait?

Hmm, sound familiar?

That touched home for me, although I hadn’t necessarily given real honest thought to moving to a farm, (although I am now) I have been thinking a lot about the life I’m living versus the life I want.

I was born and raised in Southern California. I have spent my entire life in the suburbs and for most of my life, prior to moving back from Hawaii, I loved big cities. Although I never lived in one, it was something I dreamed about as a kid. For a while, NYU was my dream school. I loved the energy, chaos and crowds of large cities. To me, they were beautifully dirty urban areas, filled with diverse stories, diverse people, and endless opportunities.

Even when we were moving back from Hawaii I thought I wanted a city life, or at least a suburban life. The idea or rural living wasn’t really a thing for me yet.

Then things started changing for me.

Sunset over houses in Hawaii
My sunset views, my last two years in Hawaii. The sun is setting over Kalama Beach.

In Hawaii, although we were in a crowded suburb, and I worked in the city which was only 20 minutes away, I was never far removed from nature. I walked to the beach every morning or evening and we hiked or kayaked almost every weekend. My commute to work included nothing, but green vegetation and ocean views. AC wasn’t a thing and I lived for the ocean breeze. I learned to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing and the rustling of palms in the wind.

I didn’t realize how important that all was until I came back to California and reality set in.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I was raised by a hippie with respect for the planet. I’ve always thought I was eco-friendly and that I did a good job taking care of the planet until I came back from Hawaii and really began to see the contrast between how people live and take care of the planet there versus here in LA.

And even though I hike, when I can here, I started to realize I am so far removed from nature, something I now know I need in my life. When I want to hike here, it is an hour-long drive, usually more, in traffic with nothing but concrete, buildings and more cars to look at. My commute is now bumper-to-bumper traffic. If I take a walk there are 50 other people on the walking trail and I have an amazing view of people sitting in traffic.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling a bit stir-crazy and the husband and I decided to take a drive up Azusa Canyon. This was before it was on fire. We drove up there late in the evening and when we pulled off at the top to take in the view there was only maybe one other car. When we got out of the car I could hear the silence and that is when it clicked.

The view from my drive up Azusa Canyon (taken on a different day)

Part of my struggles the last year or so has been that life is just too loud. Southern California is too loud and I miss the quiet. I need the quiet.

Although in a strange way, I was a little sad to admit it, but I realized I no longer loved the city. I no longer wanted the city. I realized I want nature. I want space. And I want quiet.

Now back to The Biggest Little Farm.

I immediately looked up the trailer, found where it was streaming and told my husband that his next night off, this is what we were watching.

Without giving away everything that happens in the documentary and spoiling the magic you watch unfold on screen, the documentary is basically about a couple living in LA, who sell everything to move to a huge piece of dead land and they attempt to build a fully sustainable farm.

It’s beautiful to watch and both the husband and I loved it.

Watching the earth come to life right in front of you and watching firsthand how everything has a purpose and everything works together touched me somewhere deep.

But the biggest thing I took away from The Biggest Little Farm, was how perfect the planet is and how well it all works if we just let it.

As humans, we try to make things better. We think we are making things better. And although in the short term, we may make things better aka easier for ourselves, at this point all we are really doing as an entire species is hurting.

Looking back now I believe I teared up for multiple reasons. First off I teared up just at the pure beauty and magic of watching something dead and dry come back to life a flourish.

I also teared up because I started thinking about everything I have accomplished here at my sister-in-law’s. There is way too much to share here and I’m hoping to make this into its own post eventually, but when the husband and I first moved in here, her yard was dead and dry, with nothing but weeds. Now after some love and attention, we have grass and flowers and our entire garden. Every morning her yard is filled with birds. In the evening we can sit outside and watch the hummingbirds chase each other over our heads. I can watch bees and butterflies jump from flower to flower. It’s really quite amazing.

The last reason I teared up, and I’m not 100% sure how to verbalize this one, but was because it spoke to a part of me I didn’t even realize was there. I think it spoke to the part of me that wants to do what they did. A part of me that knows it is things like what they did that inspire me and bring me the most joy.

Right after finishing The Biggest Little Farm, I saw the trailer for Kiss the Ground and I actually marked my calendar and started counting down my days until it premiered.

After Kiss the Ground premiered on Netflix, it took me a few days to get the husband to sit down with me a commit to watching another documentary all the way through. We were busy getting our fall garden going and most of his free time we were spending outside planting, pruning and building planters.

Once we finally sat down and watched it, we were both completely sucked it. When it ended, having known that the last eco-related documentary made me emotional, the husband leaned over teased with a sniffle sound and pretended to wipe the tears from my eyes, only to trigger real tears this time.

I was caught completely off guard, again. I had a vague idea what the documentary was going to be about going into it, but I never imagined it would touch me the way it did.

To sum it up, the documentary explores how we have destroyed our soil, how we can save our soil, and how that, in turn, can change the planet.

Kiss the Ground filled in a lot of holes and connected a lot of information in my head from climate change to sustainable farming. It gave me a much more full picture in my head of what I want to do for the planet and it made it feel a lot more obtainable.

Thinking back on Kiss the Ground, just like The Biggest Little Farm, multiple things made me emotional. On one hand, I physically hurt thinking about all the unnecessary destruction humans do to the planet and how so many minor changes can make such a big impact. The documentary covers a lot about farming, and the way farming here in the US has destroyed the ground. It also highlighted the flaws in our system and our government that encourage dangerous, harmful farming habits and discourage a way to grow things that would benefit the farmers, the consumers and the planet.

Another thing that really touched me was once again my own personal experience. Just like with The Biggest Little Farm, I couldn’t help, but think about how I had been spending my last few months. How I had been spending my time growing things and bringing life into my yard on all levels. I started to think how I have actually watched the soil here change and it encouraged me to keep going.

Kiss the Ground also gave me hope. It’s hard to fully explain how, but it made me feel like what I am doing matters. That my small little projects and everyday changes do add up and make a difference. It also made me feel like if I can educate myself more, that I can share this with other people and they can make changes.

The things that Kiss the Ground talked about and changes they suggested aren’t crazy or hard. There are little things that every single person can do that can make an impact.

This song and Jason Mraz were in Kiss the Ground. I’ve always loved his music and this song expresses exactly how I am feeling.

Since watching Kiss the Ground, I have ordered the book that came first and I am super excited to start reading it. I’ve also been sharing things from Kiss the Ground all over my Facebook and Instagram.

All of these documentaries brought so much joy and sadness and inspiration to me. They helped highlight the things that I really care about and motivated me to keep making these changes I’ve been making. They made me dream again and they made me feel hopeful again.

You don’t need to go watch all three, but if you are interested in climate change, sustainability, or where your food comes from, I highly recommend checking out at least one of them and then let me know what you think.

Cover Image taken in Utah near Maple Grove in Millard County.


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