Minimalism Documentary – Peek Into the Minimalist Lifestyle

The process of becoming a minimalist really isn’t complex, it’s more of an exploration of meaningful things and then pursuing what really matters in your life.  Minimalism documentary films and shows can help you see how others have made the conversion and why, and they can also help you create your own path to minimalism.

A minimalism documentary is a tv show or film that teaches you what minimalism is and how to focus on what matters.  These documentaries are available on streaming platforms, online, and cable or satellite.  Notable films from various minimalists are reviewed from Marie Kondo to The Minimalists.

Are you interested in learning more about the minimalist lifestyle?  Do you want to learn how to pursue a minimalist lifestyle, but don’t know where to start?

What is a Minimalism Documentary?

To begin with, a documentary is an educational film about many different things like a historical event, how things are made, and how people live. A minimalism documentary can teach you about living more like a minimalist and focusing on the things that actually matter. 

A minimalist documentary may feature interviews with individuals who have embraced minimalism in their lives, such as decluttering their homes or simplifying their wardrobes. They often look into the motivations behind choosing a minimalist lifestyle and the positive effects it has. These documentaries provide insight into the minimalist lifestyle and encourage a more intentional and meaningful way of living.

A man watching tv in a minimalist living room - Minimalist Documentary - Gone Minimal
A man watching tv in a minimalist living room

What is the Purpose of Minimalism Documentaries?

The purpose of minimalism documentaries is not only to teach you more about minimalism, but also give you the history behind why minimalists chose this way of life.  A minimalism documentary can also give you tips and tools on everything from decluttering and reorganizing to becoming a minimalist yourself.  These documentaries can also teach you what materialism actually looks like, the lives of the people affected by it, the effects on nature and the planet, and even how dramatically people’s lives have changed by converting to this lifestyle.

Where Can I Watch Minimalism Documentaries?

There are minimalism documentaries available on many different streaming platforms as well as satellite tv or cable.  From Curiosity Stream to Vimeo, they can be found just about anywhere for your viewing pleasure.  All it takes is a quick internet search for minimalism documentaries and the next step is just to make the time to actually watch and learn!

A minimalism documentary can teach you about living more like a minimalist and focusing on the things that actually matter. 

Minimalism Documentary Films

Minimalism is the focus on the “less is more” principle, or what Meissner of Maastricht University calls a cultural narrative to challenge consumption, economic productivity, and a “world of too much”. If you’re a movie kind of person and want a longer documentary, here are some minimalism documentary films to get you started on learning about minimalism.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (2016)

(On Netflix; follows Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus)

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are known as The Minimalists.  They started their journey to minimalism in 2009 with a 21 day focus on paring down and focusing on the things that really matter.  This documentary from 2016 features interviews from people who rejected the ideals created by Americans and found their happiness through the pursuit of less is more. 

It’s a deep discussion about how social media, advertising, and life in general has led us to believe we’re not happy and we need more.  It will help you re-center your focus on you and true happiness in simplifying.  Live deliberately with less.

The Minimalists: Less Is Now (2021)

(On Netflix; follows Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus)

This documentary also follows The Minimalists, and it’s so good I’ve watched it twice.  Less Is Now delves into Joshua and Ryan’s respective pasts, how they figured out their unhappiness with the “American Way”, and how they found their ways out of their unhappiness.  It’s a truly moving piece that helps you identify with their experiences and really understand the whys of converting to some form of minimalism.

A simple sign that says all you need is less - Minimalist Documentary - Gone Minimal
A simple sign that says all you need is less

Thrive With Less (2012)

(On Vimeo & YouTube; follows 6 college students)

Thrive With Less follows six college students who are living with less.  It reviews the norm in culture that is living excessively and it’s never enough.  This documentary compares excess with minimalism to get the viewer back to what really matters.


(2011; traveling the world in search of the meaning of happiness)

This documentary tells the stories of people around the globe who live in poverty, slums, and swamps.  It helps the viewer see that it’s not the belongings that make people happy-it’s the things that really matter.  This documentary is a truly eye-opening experience for anyone who is looking for true happiness.

Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary

(2015; follows 4 people getting ready to build a tiny house and decluttering their stuff)

This documentary is the journey of four people who pursue tiny living through decluttering and minimizing.  Throughout their journeys, they learn that it’s not just about the tiny house-it’s the way of living and focusing on something other than stuff.

Tiny, minimalist house - Minimalist Documentary - Gone Minimal
Tiny, minimalist house

The True Cost

(2015 – follows the fashion industry and materialism)

This film is a review of fashion, materialism, consumerism, and what the true cost is.  It explores the impacts of these things on not just people, but the Earth.  It’s an experience in what clothing communicates, stories behind factory life, and the working people behind the scenes of the fashion industry.

The Clean Bin Project

(2010 ; follows a couple trying to live waste free for a year)

This is an interesting look at a young couple who attempts to produce no waste.  It’s an examination of how wasteful merchandisers, grocers, and manufacturers are and how their packaging products contribute to landfills and even the ocean.  It’s a passionate project on how to be less wasteful.

Minimalism Documentary Series

Don’t want to sit through an hour and a half long documentary?  Here are a couple of minimalism documentary series you might find more doable for your interest.

A man filming a minimalist documentary - Minimalist Documentary - Gone Minimal
A man filming a minimalist documentary

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (2019)

(On Netflix; follows Marie Kondo)

Marie Kondo is an expert in everything tidying and organizing.  She created the KonMari method which involves gathering possessions and finding the ones that “spark joy”.  If the possessions do not spark joy, they are donated or discarded.  Throughout this series she works with individuals and families to declutter and pare down everything from clothing and shoes to collectibles and unused stuff.

Sparking Joy (2021)

(On Netflix; Follows Marie Kondo)

Sparking Joy is a new journey with Marie Kondo helping individuals and families in pursuing a decluttered, joyful life.  It’s an updated look at how decluttering, reorganizing, and reassessing life and belongings can decrease stress and actually make people happier.

Watch this helpful video to learn about 5 eye-opening documentaries to inspire your minimalist journey.

Related Insights

Who directed the minimalists?

The Minimalists was directed by Matt D’Avella, a documentary filmmaker.  He is also a YouTuber and an entrepreneur who explores productivity, minimalism, and peoples’ habits.

What should I watch after Minimalism?

After you watch Minimalism, I’ve got a few suggestions for you.  There’s a tv series called Get Organized with The Home Edit (2022), Down to Earth with Zac Efron (2020), and Expedition Happiness (2017).  All are available on Netflix and give you a whole new perspective on living with less, valuing nature and the planet, as well as decluttering and reorganizing.

Why is Minimalism now?

Professor Ylva Uggla of Orebro University in Sweden tells us it’s because minimalism is a tool that can help people live with more freedom and more meaning.  Minimalism is now because the market is unstable, resources are becoming more limited, and we all want to be happier.  Minimalism works for all of the above because it focuses on the things that really matter, less materialism and consumerism, more living with intention, and sustainability.

Things That Real People Prefer Documentaries Teach Them About Minimalism

I asked friends and family to share one thing they’d prefer documentaries teach them about minimalism. Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll, and the percentages of their responses.

What People Want Documentaries To Teach Them About MinimalismTimes Selected
Getting rid of stuff 26%
Living with less15%
Buying less11%
Sustainability 11%
Independence from consumerism 15%
Things Real People Wish to Learn from Documentaries About Minimalism

Other Resources:

Minimalism is not as difficult as you might think it is, and watching a minimalism documentary (or a few) can help you see it’s not just a lifestyle-it’s a journey.  There are so many different takes on such a simplified lifestyle, and learning more about it from a minimalism documentary can really assist in identifying how you might like to try this lifestyle.  Even if it’s only for a small part of your lifestyle, it’s worth it to learn more and understand what really matters in your life.

Similar Posts