New Year, Who Dis?


Welcome to 2018!  Am I the only person who feels like 2017 went quick and dirty?  Maybe it was my own personal denial of all the turmoil and injustice that embodied the past 12 months, but I honestly can’t believe the year is over already.  

So, in the spirit of new beginnings and all that resolution hoopla, I want to introduce myself and give y’all an idea of what to expect from this blog in the coming months, as I’ll be busy updating it and (hopefully) creating a more focused theme.

My name is Sophia Grace Stanley Etienne, I’m 24 years old and, as you may have read previously, I’m from a small town in southern Indiana called Santa Claus, population approximately 3,000.  The nearest Wal-Mart is 30 minutes away and we didn’t have a fast food restaurant until I was in high school when a Subway occupied an old pizza place.  Growing up in a tiny, rural town doesn’t sound like a recipe for open-minded tolerance, but despite the lack of diversity I feel that I was instilled with a sense of worldly inclusiveness (forgive the intensely pretentious phrasing).  

I owe that to my parents, who tried to expose my brother and I to new cultures and places as often as possible.  We never had curbside trash pickup, let alone recycling, so we had a multi-cart system in our garage for as long as I can remember and drove it all to the recycling center every week.  I grew up caring about environment, it was just part of our life.  My mom was one of the first people I know to swear off plastic bags and plastic containers that we couldn’t recycle.  

In college I played soccer and ran cross country, and my passion and concern for the natural world continued to grow.  After getting my degree in Public Health I decided to do a year of service with CAC AmeriCorps in the City of Knoxville Office of Sustainability and was introduced to the world of data analytics.  Although I tend to detest any sort of desk job, I enjoyed quantifying the positive changes the City was implementing.  Through AmeriCorps I met a ton of incredible people who spend their days fighting for a greener, healthier world; I’m eternally grateful for that.

Where I find myself these days is in a state of anticipatory excitement, bordering on anxiety, which is something I’m realizing is fairly normal for a person my age with aspirations to stay out of the rat race.  It seems every week I’m coming up with a new scheme to pay off loans and make a living without sacrificing my own happiness and freedom.  Maybe it’s my millenial roots, but I can’t stomach working for traditional companies, living for my two weeks of vacation a year.  

That leads me to where I am now, with this website and blog.  I believe that there is a want and a need for a more sustainable system, here in Knoxville and elsewhere.  As much as I love DIY and zero-waste blogs, I want this to be different.  I want this to be where you can come and read thought-provoking articles about low-impact brands, companies, and people that inspire real change in the world.  I want to answer those normal questions about living sustainably that sometimes aren’t always easily gleaned from all the hardcore zero waste bloggers.  Lastly, I want to help all who are willing to change their relationship to the natural world.  This is where public health and humanities meet sustainability and minimalism.  In the coming year this website will likely change names and aesthetics, and I hope my readers will stick with me while I try to masquerade as a web designer.

A few of my 2018 Goals, in no particular order:

At least one car-free day every week

My baby, the day I got her.  Best Craigslist find to date.

My baby, the day I got her.  Best Craigslist find to date.

I usually bike to work twice a week to my barista job, but recently got a new job teaching pre-k and the school is outside of my reasonable bike-to-work range.  So my new challenge will be figuring out a consistent bus routine to utilize at least one day out of the week!

Run a race every month

As a former college athlete, there is something particularly demoralizing about feeling out of shape. Signing up and paying for a race every month keeps me training and I always love the competitiveness of a good race.  I hope to eventually be running competitively again soon, just need to make time to train.  Honestly, I’m like a border collie; a tired Sophie is a happy Sophie.

Drink more water and consume less sugar

I have serious sugar problems.  I’ve been dubbed a humming-squirrel by my significant other, referring to my wild sugar cravings and lack of focus when I’m on a bender.  I’m definitely a sugar burner, and hope to change that to a fat burner by consuming fewer sugary carbs and more wholesome fats and protein.  I've also found that when I'm properly hydrated I don't do that mindless snacking thing so often.  Baked goods are my weakness and I work at a cafe, so wish me luck!

Overhaul website!

See above, pinky promise this will happen.

Write every damn day

Self-diagnosed overthinker, here.  Writing helps me organize my thoughts and possibly find something useful in the chaos that is my humming-squirrel brain.  I recently purchased a Passion Planner and its proving to be terrific motivation to write down my thoughts and goals each day.  Plus its eco-friendly; trust me, I researched the heck outta some planners for about two days before deciding on this one.

Yoga every damn day

I’ve been following Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl) for almost 6 years now and she was the first person I know of to use the phrase “Yoga Every Damn Day.”  It’s pretty self-explanatory; no excuses, just get on the ground and stretch your body.  I feel better when I start the day with even 5 minutes of yoga.  Hoping to transition this into flowing at least 15 minutes every day.

Organize at least one sustainable event every other month

This falls into the professional side of my life, and I’m going to make it a priority to get out and grind this year.  I’ve struggled to find the confidence to promote my skills, but I know the more experience I get the easier it’ll be to offer useful services to those seeking them.  Watch out Knoxville, things are about to get a little crunchier.  

Go somewhere new every month

Happy Sophie in Bolinas, CA.

Happy Sophie in Bolinas, CA.

I’m inspired by new places and find it incredibly refreshing to shake up the routine.  This doesn’t have to be a big trip every month, but I will see a new place every single month.  





These are just a few of my more overarching goals for 2018.  I have a good feeling about this year; it seriously can’t get any more tumultuous than 2017.  I’d love to hear from my readers about their own goals, so if you’re psyched about some plans for this year shoot me an email or hit me up on Instagram (@dophiagrace)!  It’s nice to talk about your dreams with others, it tends to keep ya honest and humble.  Good luck in the new year, hope you all ate your black eyed peas and greens!