The 10 Best Documentaries on Minimalism

Who doesn’t love plopping on the couch with a bowl of pretzels and zoning out to a good documentary. It’s arguably the most entertaining way to convey real-life information.

There are documentaries about almost anything—you can guess what that means! That’s right! Minimalism has been laid out in a feature film format complete with interviews from professionals and historical background recounts all for your viewing pleasure.

Top 10 Best Minimalist Documentaries

A good documentary is packed with information and visuals, and conveyed in an engaging way. If you love browsing minimalism hashtags on social media, you’ll love the astounding visuals embedded in documentaries. These minimalists movies have some stunning inspiration for aspiring minimalists, as well as helpful tips for how to pull it off.

If you’ve ever questioned whether minimalism was just an aesthetic, you won’t anymore after you watch a few of these. They expose the roots of why minimalism is important, and how transformative it can be to a person’s life and success.

Are you interested in minimalism but don’t know where to start? Is staring at your own walls not enough and you crave more minimalism? Not quite sure how to achieve that distinct minimalist look and need some examples and expert advice? Do you have zero clue what minimalism is?

Perfect! These top 10 minimalism documentaries will answer all your questions.

1. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

No matter your circumstances, income, or lifestyle, you’ll be able to relate to this documentary. That’s because the makers of this documentary traveled across the country and spoke to minimalists of all backgrounds.

Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn are minimalists themselves, and they took a cross-country book tour where they stopped and talked to minimalists throughout the United States about what minimalism means to them, the benefits of minimalism, and what led them to minimalism in the first place.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things exposes the many sides of minimalism and completely different people use minimalism to stay grounded in their connection to other people and the earth rather than artificial things. And it’s available to watch on Netflix!

2. Happy

Happy is a heartwarming and eye opening document about…happiness! This one takes us all over the world in order to discover just what makes people happy.

This documentary follows Roko Belic and his crew around the globe as they talk to everyone: researchers and mental/behavioral professionals to everyday blue collar workers, the wealthy and impoverished people, women and men, in the pursuit of finding the secret behind happiness. 

Okay, so this one isn’t technically about minimalism. But it does have something very important and relevant to say: genuine, unbounded happiness doesn’t come from material things.

3. Tiny: A Story About Living Small

This is a quirky documentary made by and about a couple, Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller, chronicling their quest to construct and live in a tiny house on their land in Colorado.

Complete with all the amenities of a normal home, their house would only measure 120 square feet. The pair also interview other members of the Tiny House Movement, which has boomed within the last decade. 

Tiny is a more lighthearted look into some extreme minimalism tactics! But you have to admit, there’s something absolutely cozy and adorable about tiny houses. Aren’t they just so satisfying to look at?

4. Living on One Dollar

Living on a Dollar actually started out as a series of YouTube videos shot by four friends: Sean Leonard, Zach Ingrasci, Chris Temple, and Ryan Christoffersen. Their goal was to document the eight weeks they spent in rural Guatemala where they challenged themselves to live on no more than $1 a day.

After their YouTube docu-series went viral, it was turned into a documentary. This one gets a little heavy as the guys end up enduring diseases, parasites, and starvation on a mission to understand what poverty feels like.

However as they build relationships with a few neighbors, they learn that you can always find real strength, hope, and happiness in your fellow man. Living on a Dollar reminds us that when we have nothing else, we have each other, and that minimalism isn’t just for the rich.

5. Thrive With Less

Here we explore the experience of living minimally in today’s “more”-driven world. It’s no secret that we live in a society where objects are worshipped. But what exactly does rampant consumerism mean for minimalists across the country?

Six Michigan State University student filmmakers take us with them as they embrace the minimalist lifestyle, going so far as to challenge each other to minimalist-based dares.

You get to see everything from their decluttering phase to dumpster diving; it’s a treat that’s entertaining and jam-packed with information. 

6. The Minimalists: Less Is Now

Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn (makers of Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things) are back.

In The Minimalists: Less Is Now they dive deeper into their lives as minimalists and what it means to be a minimalist. They also lay out the costs of consumerism on society and the planet.

If you’re considering minimalism and are looking for something that goes in-depth about minimalist life and its benefits, Less Is Now is for you!

7. The True Cost

Directed by Andrew Morgan, this documentary is all about the dark side of the  fashion industry. Specifically, its devastating impact on the environment.

The textile industry actually contributes a lot of pollution, which causes disease and environmental contamination. Morgan and his team also look into the lives of the factory workers who work long hours making these garments for little pay, and sometimes in unsafe work conditions.

This documentary emphasizes how much our vanity is costing the world every single day—it’s a real eye opener!

8. The Clean Bin Project

We have a multiple-award winning film! Can you imagine living without producing trash? Have you ever given thought to just how much trash you produce? Couple Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer go head-to-head in a competition to see which of them can produce the very least waste within a year.

In this documentary, they share some laughs and wholesome moments on their journey to live and love consumer-free lives.

They ultimately hope to inspire others to live with less waste by taking a lighthearted yet enlightening look at the impact of waste and consumerism on the planet. This is one that the family can watch together!

9. Tidying Up With Marie Kondo

Would you like a how-to on how to declutter and organize your space? Tidying Up With Marie Kondo follows “tidying expert” Marie Kondo as she helps clients of all ages and circumstances declutter and reorganize their homes.

No matter if you’re single, in a relationship, doing minimalism with children, with a lot of space or a little, Kondo uses tried-and-true methods of decluttering that tame any situation.

If you need some organization inspiration, or want some idea of what your space could/should look like, this show is only one season in on Netflix! 

10. Small Is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary

Another charming little tiny house movie, Small Is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary follows several different groups of people who are building their own tiny houses in order to save money.

Aside from being entertaining, this documentary also explores the incredibly high costs of owning a home in today’s economic climate. It’s a problem that’s only getting worse, making it so that more and more people are unable to afford a home and are stuck renting. Small Is Beautiful touches on real-world problems that a lot of us can watch and relate to.

Wrap Up

If you want to explore more about the minimalism movement, fit some of these documentaries into your downtime. Take the chance to witness the real life application of minimalism before you attempt it yourself.

Get a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into, and what kind of changes you can expect. It’s most important, however, to get an intimate idea of the state of the world today and how much minimalism can contribute to healing it.

Your minimalist journey means something bigger than yourself, whether you intend it to or not. You might not be aware of how much you’re reducing waste or using less, but if more people lived minimally the collective impact could be huge. So load up your favorite streaming service, toss a pretzel in your mouth, and feel good about yourself!

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