The Zero Waste Challenge

How one Durham family of six managed to live trash-free


Published:

Mick Schulte and her family of six joined the trash-free movement.

Photo courtesy of the Schulte family.

My life revolves around convenience. Instead of thinking through purchases or how our actions affect the world outside of our home, my husband and I live mostly in survival mode. As parents of four children ages 5 and younger, including a set of twins, we do whatever it takes to stay sane.

Then a friend came over and told me about her adult daughter living a “trash-free lifestyle.” She picked up a plastic food container on my counter and explained how her daughter, Annie, wouldn’t be able to buy it because of it being single-use plastic.

I nodded politely and asked myself, “Am I being judged?” Is she telling me this because she saw the heaping mound of disposable Diaper Genie bags billowing out of our trash bin? Or the closet full of paper towels that will need to be restocked next week?

I decided that, knowing my friend’s kind nature, she was simply sharing the brave journey her daughter had decided to embark on. She was understandably proud and supportive.

After her visit, I felt convicted. I kept thinking of Annie every time I threw something away. Then I endured a period of justification. “Of course, she can live a trash-free life – she doesn’t have kids!” I thought. “If I didn’t have kids, I’d save the planet too, and run an ultra-marathon, and get that doctorate degree.”

It got me thinking: “Has any parent ever tried to live a trash-free lifestyle?”


Discovering Zero Waste

I turned to Google and realized that trash-free living is a growing movement. Most people call it “Zero Waste,” a term coined by Bea Johnson, author of “Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste.” Johnson started changing her lifestyle while her boys were still young — around the ages of 6 and 8.

Even though I barely have enough time to brush my teeth, let alone read a book, I ordered Johnson’s book and skimmed through it when I had a chance. Her story was surprisingly refreshing and honest. She had transformed herself from a platinum blonde dedicated to keeping up with the Joneses, to a mother with a cause.

Thanks to her words, I became even more committed to the cause and began ignoring my justifications. She proved parents could be aware of the world at large. She also shared how her quality of life dramatically increased after she detached from material things — a natural outgrowth of the Zero Waste life. I wondered if that might happen to me.

I have twin baby boys who somehow leave everything I feed them on their trays, but manage to dirty multiple disposable diapers throughout each day. My 5-year-old daughter puts nonrecyclable princess stickers on everything and my 3-year-old son is addicted to individually wrapped fruit snacks.


The Challenge Begins

I told my husband I wanted to take the Zero Waste Challenge for one month. We would create only enough trash to stick in a jar and make up for all the mountains of garbage we’ve contributed to our local landfill.

Naturally, he was ecstatic.

“Doesn’t recycling more than we throw away count?” he asked. Johnson’s book explains that this is the biggest misconception about the Zero Waste lifestyle. Creating zero waste doesn’t mean “recycle more.” The whole idea is to appreciate what you have and resist the temptation to demand more “things” that must be created through purchases. Recycling is a process that takes energy. And every time we purchase something new, materials are used to develop that product.

The discussion with my husband continued. As I explained what I had read, I could see him processing the list of items we would live without for a month — like the Amazon Subscribe & Save shipment that takes up our entire dining room floor each month.

“What about diapers?” he asked.

With a forced smile, and not-so-convincing, perky voice, I exclaimed, “Cloth!”

With that, I thought I had lost him for good. The use of cloth diapers, along with many of the other adaptations for a Zero Waste lifestyle, was something we had never considered. So was composting, using a menstrual cup and buying bulk foods in only reusable containers. At least I wasn’t planning to go as far as Johnson and forage moss to use as toilet paper (even she admits that was a bit extreme).

After a couple of months of mentally preparing for the challenge, we officially started by using our new composting bin. We decided the most convenient and sustainable path for our family would be to use a local composting service. We chose CompostNow in Raleigh.

Honestly, I didn’t know anything about composting or its importance before this challenge. In search of answers to some embarrassingly basic questions, I spoke with Kat Nigro, community growth manager at CompostNow. She explained that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 30-40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted (usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/faqs.htm) and much of that food is thrown into landfills. I thought of my kids’ plates after a well-prepared meal, and how most of it usually ends up in the trash.

“When the wasted food is sent to a landfill, it gets thrown in a pile with no oxygen. Even though it’s rotting, in that anaerobic environment, it’s emitting methane gas. And methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,” Nigro explained.

After our conversation, I was convinced and, thanks to our affordable and convenient composting service, I found it easy to incorporate composting into our daily routine.


The Bulk Groceries Challenge

Other Zero Waste options weren’t so easy. Take, groceries, for example. I depend on my local store’s express lane, where I pick up the food I’ve ordered online so it can be loaded into my minivan. I tried to go to Whole Foods and pretend that I had all the time in the world to seek out bulk items. But with four kids who won’t fit in a grocery cart, this just didn’t work.

We ended up with an empty pantry. After feeding them our last can of cream of mushroom soup for a snack, my kids revolted. I had to give in to the convenience of the express lane. I can’t say this was a total failure, though.

I put a special note on my order asking that they try to use as little packaging as possible and keep all my produce free-standing. When I got the call confirming my order, the store’s employee said, “I did what you asked and left all your produce out of bags. I’m a little worried about the asparagus, but you know, I’ve never thought about all that packaging before. It does seem like such a waste.”

Moments like this happened throughout our Zero Waste Challenge. I awkwardly explained what we were doing, and people would tell a story about how their grandparents would never throw things away so nonchalantly. Somehow, we’ve created a culture that ignores the fact that throwing something away doesn’t make it disappear.

Take disposable diapers. They can sit in a landfill for up to 500 years, according to Real Diaper Association, a nonprofit that encourages parents and small businesses to take the lead in creating a cultural shift to increase the use of reusable cloth diapers. If this is true, my children’s diapers will still be rotting away, emitting methane gases while my great-great-great-grandchildren are living their lives. 

Learning such information during my Zero Waste month overwhelmed me at times. I started to feel an urge to go back to my regular routine — especially as we suffered two (yes, two!) rounds of a stomach bug during the challenge.


Changing Habits Takes Time

I’ll admit the “month challenge” idea put more stress on our family than I expected. It’s impossible to transform from trash-full to trash-free in a flash. Johnson warned me about this when I spoke to her for this story.

“Zero Waste isn’t something you can achieve in one month, or a year or even several years. It’s something that happens over time,” she said. “When you run out of a certain household product, consider the less wasteful alternatives and see if you can incorporate them into your life.”

My experience did teach me the value of striving for less waste, especially when I thought of my kids. I want them to value relationships and experiences more than things. I also want them to see me caring for the world around us, so they will be inspired to do the same.

And even though we produced more trash than could fit in a jar, we did better. By the last week of our Zero Waste month, our garbage bin held one half-filled trash bag and two Diaper Genie bags. That’s less than half of what we used to produce.

As a slave to convenience, I was surprised to find that many of the changes we made didn’t make things more difficult — they just took thoughtful planning. That gives me hope as we try to reduce our family’s waste further — but this time at a more leisurely pace.


Simple Ways to Start

  • Cancel your junk mail.
  • Bring reusable grocery bags to the store.
  • Use microfiber cloths or vinegar for cleaning.
  • Buy snacks in bulk and put them in reusable containers for your kids (instead of Ziploc bags).
  • Buy milk in reusable glass containers.
  • Join the Facebook group, “Toward Zero Waste,” for helpful tips.
  • Read Bea Johnson’s book, “Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste.”
  • Consider using cloth diapers while at home (I use disposable when we’re out and about).
  • Take a tour of a recycling center and/or landfill. (I did, and it was very inspiring.)

Mick Schulte is a writer and photographer in Durham, where she lives with her family of six and loves finding ways to make motherhood even more challenging than it already is.

 

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Calendar

December 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

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Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
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Cost: Free

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Erwin Road
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Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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See epic athletes from across the globe battle it out for the titles of strongest men and women. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

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Dorton Arena
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd.
Chapel Hill , NC  27516
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Sponsor: Spring Haven Farm
Telephone: 919.407.1806
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Fidelity Bank Parking Lot
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Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
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Durham Performing Arts Center
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Cost: $13 and up

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PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
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Cost: $15-$50

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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
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Cost: $37 and up

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

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Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Contact Name: Ken Peters
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Cost: $12/person

Where:
Theatre In The Park
107 Pullen Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Telephone: 919.929.2787

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Enjoy seasonal favorites and new discoveries.

Cost: $15/adult, $5/child

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Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
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Search for owls and other active wildlife after the sun sets. Ages 13-15. Register online. Choose course #117116.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Free

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4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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Join Mickey Mouse and his friends, including Captain Hook, Moana, Belle, Elsa, Aladdin, Ariel and more in a magical celebration on the ice. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $26-$30/person

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

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Cost: $20-$73

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
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Telephone: 919-865-5725
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Cost: $4 per child

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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Contact Name: Ken Peters
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Cost: Free

Where:
Gladwell Orthodontics
13271 Strickland Rd., Ste. 100
Raleigh, NC  27613
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Children with disabilities learn the basics of meal preparation, cooking and clean-up with easy-to-follow recipes. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #116724.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Children with special needs make cupcakes with bright holiday designs. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #116724.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Enjoy a painting workshop and pizza party. Register online. 

Cost: $35/child

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue
Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Fisher
Website »

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Take the family for free pizza from Domino's, pictures with Santa (our photographer will take the family photo and send you the free digital files), hot chocolate and other holiday treats, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Family Focus Chiropractic
2106 Crossway Lane
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Family Focus Chiropractic
Telephone: 919-762-5034
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Cost: Free

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

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Explore the history of giving and help to cut out and assemble warm fleece blankets for children in need. The blankets will be donated to Project Linus. Ages 6 and older. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Take a one-hour guided tour of Historic Oak View County Park and see holiday decorations interpreting five different time periods in Oak View’s history (Antebellum Era, Civil War Era,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Contact Name: Ken Peters
Website »

More information

Enjoy a painting workshop and pizza party. Register online. 

Cost: $35/child

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue
Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Fisher
Website »

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Learn to make holiday cupcakes. Ages 7-10. Register online. Choose course #116728.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Website »

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Take the family for Kids Night at Chick-Fil-A in Garner. Enjoy a free indoor playspace, face painting and balloon twisting with Mimi the Clown. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chick-Fil-A
2720 Timber Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: The MelodyMaker Entertainment
Telephone: (919)639-9328
Contact Name: Melody Scruggs
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Larger-than-life puppets, Russian-made costumes and a 60-foot magical Christmas tree highlight the Moscow Ballet's holiday treat. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $30 and up

Where:
Carolina Theatre
309 W. Morgan St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

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Show Less...

Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

Learn about the activities of winter animal neighbors and make a special treat to invite them to your yard. Ages 3-5 with adult.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of Historic Oak View County Park and see holiday decorations interpreting five different time periods in Oak View’s history (Antebellum Era, Civil War Era,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Contact Name: Ken Peters
Website »

More information

Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy a stroll through the winter woods. Register online. Choose course #117342.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Learn to make holiday cupcakes. Ages 7-10. Register online. Choose course #116729.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $9/child, $24/adult

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Larger-than-life puppets, Russian-made costumes and a 60-foot magical Christmas tree highlight the Moscow Ballet's holiday treat. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $30 and up

Where:
Carolina Theatre
309 W. Morgan St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

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Take the family to enjoy Ira David Wood III's musical comedy adaptation of the Charles Dickens' classic. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $36 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Cost: $43-$75

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Cost: $5-$15

Where:
The Barn at Broadslab
4682 NC Hwy 50 S
Benson, NC  27504
View map »


Sponsor: Clayton Piano Festival
Telephone: 919-606-9703
Contact Name: Jonathan Levin
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Ages 1-5 and caregiver take a relaxing stroll to experience nature. Register online. Choose course #117304.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Enjoy holiday fun with cookies, crafts and a children's show.

Cost: Free

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Green St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Contact Name: Ken Peters
Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy Ira David Wood III's musical comedy adaptation of the Charles Dickens' classic. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $36 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

The Geminids meteor shower peaks Dec. 13. Enjoy an indoor presentation and (weather permitting) use of the preserve's telescope outdoors. Children must be accompanied by an adult....

Cost: $2

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
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Sponsor: Wilkerson Nature Preserve
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Cost: $30 and up

Where:
Carolina Theatre
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Cost: $26-$30/person

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301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

Children make holiday crafts for their homes using materials from the gardens for inspiration. Parent accompaniment required; parents are admitted free of charge.

Cost: $10.00 per child for members, $15.00 per child for nonmembers

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of Historic Oak View County Park and see holiday decorations interpreting five different time periods in Oak View’s history (Antebellum Era, Civil War Era,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Contact Name: Ken Peters
Website »

More information

Take the family for s Christmas theme-park style event all under one roof. Experience a winter wonderland with winding hallways of lights and decorations with special events beginning in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crossroads Fellowship
2721 E. Millbrook Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Fellowship
Telephone: 919-981-0222
Contact Name: Lorraine Entwisle
Website »

More information

Kids enjoy games and food while parents enjoy a night out. Ages 5-10. Register online. Choose course #117711.

Cost: $16/child resident, $20/child nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

More information

Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. Choose course #117241

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy an evening of holiday fun with your canine friend.

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Armory
212 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Telephone: 919-560-435527295

More information

Kids have fun and make pottery at the clay studio while parents enjoy a night out. Each kid will complete and paint a piece of pottery that will be glazed and fired by the instructor and...

Cost: $18/child

Where:
The Clay Studio
1058 West Club Blvd.
Space 836
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2735
Contact Name: Lauren Tannenbaum Whittaker

More information

The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

This class is a chance for adventurous women to get together for a fun-filled workshop where we explore the basics of aerial silks. No need for a background in aerial yoga, this is a workshop...

Cost: $25

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
Website »

More information

Cary Ballet students presents the holiday story of Clara, her heroic nutcracker, the evil Mouse Queen and all of Clara’s colorful friends. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Ballet Company
Telephone: 919-200-3939
Contact Name: Michelle Gisondi
Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy Ira David Wood III's musical comedy adaptation of the Charles Dickens' classic. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $36 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

City Ballet presents the full-length, richly costumed and staged version featuring guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing alongside nearly 100 City Ballet student dancers to bring the...

Cost: $15-$30/person

Where:
Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
View map »


Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Website »

More information

Barriskill Dance Theatre School present its annual production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Reynolds Theater, Duke University
125 Science Dr.
Durham, NC  27708
View map »


Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $26-$30/person

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

The Justice Theater Project presents the rebirth of its annual holiday family favorite, "Black Nativity by Langston Hughes," Dec. 14-18 at two locations: Umstead Park United Church...

Cost: $27 Adults, $23 Seniors/Students/Military, $21 groups of 10+.*Prices do NOT inc

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theater
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC   27607
View map »


Sponsor: The Justice Theater Project
Telephone: 336-655-2119
Contact Name: Melissa Zeph
Website »

More information

Enjoy a solo theatrical performance to benefit post-Florence recovery at Shelter Neck. Actor Peter Battis becomes Charles Dickens (and his beloved characters) as Dickens tells his classic tale...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
The Community Church of Chapel Hill UU
106 Purefoy Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: The Community Church of Chapel Hill UU
Website »

More information

Celebrate the season with favorite carols and enjoy a singalong.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC
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Website »

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Enjoy a continental breakfast (juice, muffins, fruit, juice, etc.), a story read by Mrs. Claus, and photo opportunities. Be sure to bring your letter for Santa that Mrs. Claus can take back to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Road
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing polkhouse2@bellsouth.net. 

Cost: $22/attendee. $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Telephone: 919-676-6368
Website »

More information

Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call the park home. Help collect data for the Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects....

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of Historic Oak View County Park and see holiday decorations interpreting five different time periods in Oak View’s history (Antebellum Era, Civil War Era,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
4028 Carya drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Contact Name: Ken Peters
Website »

More information

City Ballet presents the full-length, richly costumed and staged version featuring guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing alongside nearly 100 City Ballet student dancers to bring the...

Cost: $15-$30/person

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
View map »


Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Website »

More information

Take the family to make gingerbread houses. Workshop takes place at 2 p.m. An allergy-free workshop takes place at 11 a.m. Registration required online for all workshops.

Cost: $40/per family

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Ginger B. House
Website »

More information

Enjoy making a rustic wreath for winter starting with twine, pine cones, and some unexpected objects. Join artist Leatha Koefler in creating unique wintry garlands and wreaths for this...

Cost: $10/member, $15/nonmember

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919-821-2787
Website »

More information

Take part in a fun and playful aerial yoga and movement class for ages 8 and older. No prior aerial yoga experience required. Register online. $40 one parent+one child (age 8-12) $20...

Cost: $40 child+adult or $20/child $25/adult

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 888-587-9530
Website »

More information

Barriskill Dance Theatre School present its annual production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Reynolds Theater, Duke University
125 Science Dr.
Durham, NC  27708
View map »


Website »

More information

The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Cary Ballet students presents a condensed version of the holiday story featuring Clara, her heroic nutcracker, the evil Mouse Queen and all of Clara’s colorful friends. 

Cost: $12/person

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Ballet Company
Telephone: 919-200-3939
Contact Name: Michelle Gisondi
Website »

More information

Celebrate the holiday season with goats, farm animals, a new hay ride and tractor ride, holiday treats and a Christmas Market. Santa will be at the farm on all weekends giving you the perfect...

Cost: $13.50/person

Where:
Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd.
Chapel Hill , NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Spring Haven Farm
Telephone: 919.407.1806
Contact Name: Andrew Crihfield
Website »

More information

Free Kidz Connection Event for kids in grades 1-5 featuring games, snacks and fun. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Bible Fellowship
9043 Chapel Hill Road
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: Grace Bible Fellowship
Telephone: 919-468-4590
Contact Name: Yvette
Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $26-$30/person

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday, December 15; 1:00–3:00 p.m. Stop by our FREE discovery table to learn about soil! Registration is not required. The display table is located at the Upper Playground.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850

More information

Enjoy a 75-minute workshop learning the fundamental components of aerial yoga in a relaxed and fun learning environment. The student will experience yoga asanas (poses) on...

Cost: $40/person

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
Website »

More information

Families make gingerbread houses together. Register online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing polkhouse2@bellsouth.net. 

Cost: $22/attendee. $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Telephone: 919-676-6368
Website »

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of Historic Oak View County Park and see holiday decorations interpreting five different time periods in Oak View’s history (Antebellum Era, Civil War Era,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Contact Name: Ken Peters
Website »

More information

The Johnston County Chorus presents "A Christmas Spectacular," its annual holiday show featuring favorite seasonal songs and skits. Special guests this year include dancers from...

Cost: See the website for fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy Ira David Wood III's musical comedy adaptation of the Charles Dickens' classic. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $36 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Cary Ballet students presents the holiday story of Clara, her heroic nutcracker, the evil Mouse Queen and all of Clara’s colorful friends. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Ballet Company
Telephone: 919-200-3939
Contact Name: Michelle Gisondi
Website »

More information

The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Learn to identify a few common winter “feeder birds” and make some yummy bird treats to take home. Ages 5 and older with adult. Register online. 

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Harris Lake will welcome a special holiday visitor this December!  Santa will take time out of his busy schedule to join us for a cup of hot cocoa and a ride on our wagon along the back roads of...

Cost: $2 per person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Experience The Raleigh Ringers live in concert as they dazzle concert audiences with unique interpretations of sacred, secular, and popular music, including famous rock ‘n’ roll tunes...

Cost: $20/adult, $11/student

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

City Ballet presents the full-length, richly costumed and staged version featuring guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing alongside nearly 100 City Ballet student dancers to bring the...

Cost: $15-$30/person

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
Website »

More information

Discover what's happening as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #117095.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Barriskill Dance Theatre School present its annual production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Reynolds Theater, Duke University
125 Science Dr.
Durham, NC  27708
View map »


Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $26-$30/person

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Drop your children off to enjoy games, a pizza dinner, activities and crafts while you finish your holiday shopping or just enjoy a night off.  Ages 6-14. Registration required...

Cost: $25 for first child; $20 each sibling

Where:
East Coast Gaming
218 Nottingham Dr.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy Ira David Wood III's musical comedy adaptation of the Charles Dickens' classic. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $36 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

The Johnston County Chorus presents "A Christmas Spectacular," its annual holiday show featuring favorite seasonal songs and skits. Special guests this year include dancers from...

Cost: See the website for fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a one-act performance of Clara’s journey to the Kingdom of the Sweets to life, with dazzling costumes, animated narration, and a talented ensemble of young dancers.

Cost: $12-$15

Where:
Heritage High School
1150 Forestville Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Cary Ballet students presents the holiday story of Clara, her heroic nutcracker, the evil Mouse Queen and all of Clara’s colorful friends. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Ballet Company
Telephone: 919-200-3939
Contact Name: Michelle Gisondi
Website »

More information

Experience The Raleigh Ringers live in concert as they dazzle concert audiences with unique interpretations of sacred, secular, and popular music, including famous rock ‘n’ roll tunes...

Cost: $20/adult, $11/student

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

The Justice Theater Project presents the rebirth of its annual holiday family favorite, "Black Nativity by Langston Hughes," Dec. 14-18 at two locations: Umstead Park United Church...

Cost: $27 Adults, $23 Seniors/Students/Military, $21 groups of 10+.*Prices do NOT inc

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theater
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC   27607
View map »


Sponsor: The Justice Theater Project
Telephone: 336-655-2119
Contact Name: Melissa Zeph
Website »

More information

Experience The Raleigh Ringers live in concert as they dazzle concert audiences with unique interpretations of sacred, secular, and popular music, including famous rock ‘n’ roll tunes...

Cost: $20/adult, $11/student

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

The ArtsCenter’s annual Songs from the Circle shows are a celebration of the best in classic American folk and bluegrass. The Circle cast has added a second program to celebrate the...

Cost: $15

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown     
Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2018 Readers' Favorites are.