The Most Inspiring Minimalism Shows And Movies

minimalism shows and movies

NAVIGATION

I’ll be the first to admit that my guilty pleasure is binge-watching minimalism movies and shows, especially when I’m in need of some motivation to get me out of a funk.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

It’s been over a decade since I began living minimally, and in that time I’ve found several movies and shows that keep me inspired when it comes to living a minimalist lifestyle.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a well-seasoned veteran in the minimalist community, a good tv show or documentary can help motivate you to keep up with a minimalist lifestyle and give you a few new ideas too!

What Are The 9 Best Documentaries On Minimalism?

The Best Documentaries On Minimalism

Among the many different movies and documentaries that exist out there in the digital world, the ones I find to be the most interesting and worth watching all share a distinct characteristic — they take the audience on a journey.

Best Documentaries On MinimalismSome minimalism documentaries, movies, or shows focus on investigating a specific question or carrying out social experiments, while others question experts and critique the way society is attached to overconsumption, waste production, and materialism.

Whether a minimalist movie is more focused on consuming less, using less, or learning more about the subject’s own connection to the world through minimalism, all of these minimalism documentaries are able to bring the viewers on the journey of discovery with them.

I always appreciate a good movie or documentary, but one that helps me stay motivated on my quest for minimalism is a win-win.

The True Cost

The True Cost

This is the perfect minimalism documentary for people who are into fashion, but also a great film for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the way we tend to shop: unintentionally, endlessly, and in search of happiness.

the true cost documentaryThis minimalism documentary is an eye-opening film about the environmental and social costs of fast fashion. It explores materialism, over-consumption, and how advertising impacts our society and shopping habits.

While not a fashion guru myself, I still appreciated the roots of this film and its dedication to uncovering issues with the fashion industry and consumerism. After watching it, I felt even better about my choice to commit to a minimalist wardrobe.

The True Cost can be rented on Amazon Prime.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Minimalism A Documentary About the Important Things

This minimalism documentary helped contribute to the rise in popularity of minimalism in pop-culture. Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who are known as “The Minimalists,” are well-known figures in the minimalism community.

minimalism documentaryTheir first minimalism documentary, A Documentary About the Important Things, takes viewers through the different ways minimalism can be lived by following people from varying backgrounds.

Despite their various and sometimes drastically different backgrounds, all of the minimalists featured in the documentary strive toward the same goal (one a lot of us can relate to): living a fuller life with fewer physical possessions weighing them down.

Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things can be rented on Amazon Prime.

why is minimalism so popular

Less is Now

Less is Now

The Minimalists launched their second minimalism documentary Less is Now in 2021. The film takes the audience through Joshua and Ryan’s childhood and explores how minimalism had an impact on their mindset toward materialism and sentimentality.

I thought this film showed an interesting side to minimalism by exploring their upbringing. It reveals the way our mindsets and how we view materials, consumption, and sentimentality all have a lot do with how we grew up.

The goal of the movie is to create a sense of urgency to change consumer culture, driving the film’s message that “now is the time for less.”

Less is Now can currently be streamed on Netflix.

minimalism documentary Less is Now

Living on One Dollar

Living on One Dollar

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy adventure as much as the next guy, but these two YouTubers really take adventure to the next level. In this documentary, two friends decide to live for two months in rural Guatemala on just one dollar a day.

living on one dollar documentaryThey struggle throughout their journey with financial stress, hunger, and parasites. One aspect I enjoyed from this experiment-based documentary was the heart-felt interviews with people they met.

I found this minimalism movie pretty awe-inspiring. It’s an extremely thought-provoking film that makes you re-evaluate your perspective on materiality and what the word “necessary” really means.

Living on One Dollar started as a YouTube video, but with the number of viewers and audience response, the duo decided to create a longer minimalism documentary that ended up winning Best Documentary at Sonoma International Film Festival.

Living on One Dollar can be watched for free on Amazon Prime.

The Clean Bin Project

The Clean Bin Project

If you enjoy a good laugh, this minimalism movie is for you. This documentary had me laughing all throughout the film. Described as An Inconvenient Truth meets Supersize Me, it’s a fun watch filled with comedic moments, stop-motion animations, and unforgettable imagery.

Competition can really get people riled up, and for this couple, it’s no different. Grant and Jen race to see who can be the first one to find an answer to the question: Is it possible to live completely waste free?

The Clean Bin Project can be found right here on Vimeo.

the clean bin project

zero waste lifestyle

No Impact Man

No Impact Man

This movie is about a man doing his best to make zero impact on the Earth, something I really identify with. I thought that the concept was bold, and the execution of the movie was brave.

no impact manThe story follows Colin Beavan and his family as they set out to go a whole year without harming the planet by giving up electricity along with everyday necessities.

An entertaining and fun movie, this documentary shows the strain extreme sustainability can put on a family, but also highlights the growth gained from the experience.

No Impact Man can be rented on Amazon and YouTube.

Thrive with Less

Thrive with Less

This minimalism movie is also based on experimentation. Like No Impact Man, the documentary follows people as they take on a more minimalist lifestyle at a very specific life stage.

Six college students document their search for purpose and passions while living in moderation. They ask introspective question about when American society started being more focused on temporary sources of happiness instead of working towards lasting joy. The movie gave off a low-budget indie movie feel, which I personally enjoyed.

You can rent Thrive with Less on Vimeo.

Thrive With Less

Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary

Small is Beautiful A Tiny House Documentary

With the tiny house movement growing in popularity and more movies and shows out on tiny homes all the time, this one stands out by exploring and explaining the economic crisis and the price of housing and living. The 2012 documentary shows four people attempting to live a more sustainable and secure future by building and living in a tiny house.

Having built a tiny house myself and started working on that project after being laid off after the 2008 recession, I really enjoyed the angle this movie took. Not only was it realistic and relatable, but it also was able to keep my attention.

Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary can be streamed on Tubi Tv.

tiny house tv shows

Affluenza & Escape From Affluenza

Affluenza and Escape From Affluenza

The 1997 film Affluenza is paired with its follow-up documentary, Escape from Affluenza. Even though this minimalist documentary is over 25 years old, it’s still extremely relevant. An oldie but a goodie, this documentary really hones in on the basic principles of minimalism.

The first installment of the documentary explores the epidemic of over-consumption, waste, and materialism. Defining the problem at hand, the sequel investigates solutions to minimizing debt, stress, and over-consumption.

escape from affluenza movieI think to some people, minimalism can feel like a newer phenomenon as the movement becomes more popular and mainstream. This film is a good reminder that the core values and ideas of minimalism have been around for a while, just under different names.

I think this movie is great for those just getting started with minimalism because it can help illuminate some of the problems minimalism aims to solve. This recognition and the sheer amount of information included makes the movie well worth watching.

Affluenza and Escape from Affluenza can be found on YouTube.

What Are The Best Minimalist TV Shows?

What Are The Best Minimalist TV Shows

It can be hard to find time to sit down and watch a full-length movie. Watching a minimalism series, on the other hand, can make it easier to watch and commit to in smaller chunks. If you prefer the format of show or series as opposed to a two-hour movie, read on.

Sparking Joy With Marie Kondo

Sparking Joy With Marie Kondo

Since launching her first series, Kondo’s methods have really taken off. She even has four books out on organizing and minimizing. Now, she’s on her second Netflix Series.

Her catch phrase, “Does it spark joy?” is used throughout the series along with other methods demonstrated to help individuals simplify their lives. This reality-meets-minimalism tv series follows along as she helps people with decluttering and organizing in their lives by simplifying their workplaces.

Sparking Joy With Marie Kondo can be streamed on Netflix.

sparking joy with marie kondo

Tidying Up With Marie Kondo

Tidying Up With Marie Kondo

In this entertaining Netflix series, Marie Kondo demonstrates the art of keeping your house and workspace tidy and organized. The show follows Marie Kondo as she helps individuals tidy up and transform their lives through organization and downsizing.

Tidying Up With Marie Kondo
This influential minimalist series has helped a lot of people evaluate their attachment to physical items and start decluttering for a clear workspace and mind.

I opt to ask more logic and system-based questions when decluttering, so the spark joy method isn’t what I prefer, but it’s a great fit for those who might have sentimental ties with their possessions.

Tidying Up With Marie Kondo can be found on Netflix.

declutter like a minimalist

Consumed

Consumed

This Canadian reality tv show challenges families that are drowning in excess stuff to live a full two weeks with just the bare minimum. With the excess stuff gone, families address feelings and issues causing problems within their relationships hiding underneath their clutter.

consumed reality tv showI recognize that this is reality TV, so the show’s aimed to entertain, but it feels like a missed opportunity on talking about minimalism as a life-long journey. The show’s host checks in on the families later on, and a good amount of the families have accumulated excess stuff once again.

Watching this show reminded me that the start of the minimalism journey and downsizing will only be helpful in changing a lifestyle if it’s followed up with consistent habits. You can’t truly become a minimalist, or truly experience the benefits of minimalism, just because you go through one big downsize. It’s really a lifetime commitment.

Consumed unfortunately can’t be streamed in the U.S.

how long does it take to become a minimalist

Other Minimalist Media Sources

Other Minimalist Media Sources

In my free time, I like to read books that will help me grow in my minimalist mindset and stay inspired to pursue my minimalist goals. There’s a lot of resources on simple living, and sometimes sorting through what books are actually helpful and entertaining can be difficult.

minimalism book reviewsThe best minimalist books are genuine and clear, with succinct writing and useful tips that you can use right away. Decluttering at the Speed of Life and Soulful Simplicity are two of my favorites, but you can check out my whole list below.

We all need a little motivation at slow down at points in our lives, especially when we’re trying to start or push through a difficult task. For long-term projects or goals, the middle is often the hardest to push through.

Making progress might not always look like filling boxes or reorganizing the room — sometimes progress is recharging by sitting back and enjoying a show or movie that will remind you why you committed to the lifestyle you’re pursuing.

Your Turn!

  • Which documentary on this list are you most interested in watching?
  • What other shows motivate you to start acting on your goals?

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