Conscious Living 101: 5 Books & 5 Documentaries That Will Open Your Eyes To The "Why" Behind Conscious Living

By A. Davidson | October 2016

Getting Educated On The Issues 

It's difficult to really live a conscious lifestyle without learning more about the why behind what we’re doing. Why is shopping less such an important step to take? What is our personal role in climate change? Why should we stop purchasing from fast fashion brands? Why should we reduce meat consumption? One aspect of committing to the journey to conscious living means continuing education and diving deep into the issues and industries that are causing and contributing to problems like human trafficking, climate change, modern day slavery, and poverty.

These documentaries and books were created and written by people coming from multiple perspectives with diverse passions and findings. Yet, each one has come to the same conclusion: change is needed. And each one of us has the opportunity to do what we can to make our world a better place.

Here are five documentaries and five books that will help expand your understanding of what it means to live a conscious lifestyle: 

TO watch: Documentaries

1. The True Cost

The True Cost is really the first and only documentary so far that dives deep into the world of fast fashion and the damage it’s doing on the people making the clothes, as well as on the earth. The True Cost takes you from runway to sweatshop, from cotton field to department store, exposing the true journey our clothes take before they find their way to our closets. 



2. Minimalism

Minimalism is a new documentary made by The Minimalists, the guys who were instrumental in bringing minimalism to the mainstream. It would be difficult to truly live a conscious life without channeling the minimalist in you - even if that might look different than what minimalism means to me. Just like Joshua and Ryan explore and explain in this doc, minimalism is not about just having less for the sake of having less. It’s about prioritizing and making decisions about what really matters to you, with regard to belongings as well as values.



3. Food, Inc.

You’ve probably at least heard of Food, Inc. at one point or another. Food, Inc. does the same thing for the food industry that The True Cost does for the fashion industry. It exposes the parts of the industry that corporations and governments don’t want us to know: the harmful effects it has on the environment, the toll it takes on workers, and the lack of transparency that leads to negative effects on our health.

Watch Food, Inc. 


4. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

Cowspiracy takes the problems with the food industry one step further by diving even deeper into the world of meat. Believe it or not, animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to climate change. It is one of the leading causes of deforestation, water consumption, greenhouse gas emission, pollution, and more environmental woes. The film is a controversial one, as the filmmakers call out many environmentalist groups who seem to be completely ignoring the problem.



5. An Inconvenient Truth

You’ve heard of the movie that follows Al Gore on his quest to expose the problem of climate change and reverse its effects. This documentary opened millions of people’s eyes to the reality of global warming and the hard truth that it is humanity’s doing. This doc is a classic that every person on a journey to a conscious lifestyle should watch at least once in their life.


to read: BOOKS


1. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Did you know that the average life cycle of a Zara garment is two weeks? Two weeks, and that really cute top that just had to be bought is either sitting in the back of a closet never to be worn again or finding its way to a landfill. Overdressed author Elizabeth L. Cline takes you through her journey from an average American shopper who once bought seven pairs of identical $7 flats from KMart, to discovering the impact the fast fashion industry has on our wellbeing, as well as that of our society, our environment, and our economy. She also offers alternatives to this system and how exactly we can break this buy-and-toss cycle - like sewing and mending our own clothes!



2. This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate

Where An Inconvenient Truth blames climate change on carbon emissions, This Changes Everything blames it on capitalism. Author Naomi Klein argues that our economy is what is really wreaking havoc on our world, and that the solution is to take the power away from corporations and put the power back into the hands of local democracies. This Changes Everything is now a film as well!



3. Magnifeco: Your Head-to-toe Guide To Ethical Fashion and Non-toxic Beauty

Magnifeco, written by Kate Black, is a much more practical book. After taking you through the problems with the fashion and beauty industries, Black makes plenty of practical suggestions you can begin implementing into your life and introduces brands that are doing things right.



4. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

Yvon Chouinard, author of Let My People Go Surfing, is also the founder of Patagonia, a company that is trailblazing the way for ethical and sustainable clothing. Chouinard tells some tales about how Patagonia got to be where they are today, gives some great business advice, and leaves you inspired to do what you can to make the world better. If you like this book, you also may want to check out Patagonia Tools for Grassroots Activists and The Responsible Company



5. Thrive: An environmentally conscious lifestyle guide to better health and true wealth

K. Chayne, author of Thrive, argues that true happiness in life does not come primarily from what we do, how we live, or what we consume. Rather, it comes from a certain state of mind which you have the power to cultivate within yourself. So much of living a conscious life begins with changing your mindset and developing a healthier relationship with your inner self. This book takes you through practical steps and exercises you can take that are backed by research-based evidence and will help you live a life of personal wellness and positive global impact.



Have you watched any of these documentaries or read any of these books? What did you think? What is your favorite book or doc about conscious living?