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Tonya Kay

Tonya Kay photo courtesy Tonya KayTonya Kay is an actress, TV personality, professional dancer and danger artist living in Los Angeles. A vegetarian of 28 years, vegan for 18 of those and raw vegan for the last 11, Tonya Kay pioneers the green health movement with appearances, publications and green media (available at KayosMarket). Watch Tonya Kay's self-produced web series The Eco Tourist on EcoHearth's Eco Tube. You may have also seen her recently on TV's My Ride Rules, The Tonight Show, Criminal Minds, Glee, House MD, Secret Girlfriend and American Idol with Rhianna. She has performed live in STOMP, De La Guarda, with Panic At The Disco, Kenny Rogers and in countless music videos and commercials. Look for Tonya Kay in the new Muppets Movie, starring in MTV Network's Video Game Reunion, playing a lead in the scripted animal-activist feature film, Bold Native, performing the voice of Green Girl in the raw vegan superhero animated film Rawman and Green Girl and performing burlesque live in Hollywood, California, almost any weekend. In 2012, Tonya Kay will star in the films Off World and Within The Darkness. For more on Tonya Kay, visit her website.

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I Am Solar Charged
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 00:00  |  Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry

Sun Amidst Palm Trees photo by Lain BuchananWhen I was growing up, our cats would lie in the sun for as long as it would shine through our window. Cats sleep twenty out of twenty-four hours per day, anyway. Without even a dream twitch, they'd sun bake for as many hours as they could—each hot to the touch, just a fireball hairball with the secret smile of royal satisfaction. Mom always said they were solar charging.

I live in an apartment now, with giant windows and 100% fewer cats. For a year or so, I've been conjuring ways to flatter my landlord into allowing a solar panel on his use-prohibited roof. Paying rent on time, fixing bad wiring, repainting trim and doors, I've even planted on the shady side of the grounds, fantasizing that my dedication to the green cause, as well as the property, will eventually persuade him.  My hope is that, even if he doesn't share the same alternative-energy ideals as I do, perhaps my behavior will inspire his approval—possibly even his aid— to install this building's first solar panel.

Even though lots of us city dwellers don't own our homes, we still have low-impact ideals. Going through the landlord-courting process makes me feel like homeowners have no excuse but to experiment with alternative energy; it’s so much easier to get started if you didn't need to get permission!

In the meantime, I'm actively lessening my energy needs in hopes that one solar panel will suffice. Being a raw vegan, I don't own a microwave (does anyone anymore?). There's no coffee pot or toaster oven in my kitchen, and the dishwasher is used for flower vase storage while the oven holds pots and pans. Instead, I have acquired a hand-crank blender and a human-powered juicer. Recently a small, Greenstar 5-Star refrigerator replaced the antique one that looked cool, but was built long before energy-efficiency ratings.

To cut back more on my electricity use, I'm enjoying not needing lights during the long, summer days. And at night, I'm flipping off lights I don't need—even if I am just leaving the room for a bit. Many times I replace electric lights altogether with beeswax and palm-wax candles. I can even read a book from the light of a single nearby votive... and the shading produced by candlelight is every lover's vision of perfection.

For radiation reduction as well as energy conservation, I flip the power-strip switch if I am not using my wi-fi modem or printer. All that's left of my electricity usage is a daily big-time stereo jam so I can dance, workout or sing at the top of my lungs (there are some things I won't cut back on). The electricity use in my home has become so low that, even with the stereo jams, I am banking on needing to purchase only one solar panel.

So while I am waiting for my bank account and landlord to endorse this idea, I have snuck up onto said use-prohibited rooftop to enjoy some private, full-body sun worship. Relishing the heat, half inch of flesh deep, I am warmed, my serotonin is refreshed, my Vitimin D is replenished and my circadian rhythms are synchronized. Wait a second—I am solar charging! I am solar charging and need neither money nor permission. Most importantly, I don't have to wait. I can make alternative energy work for me right now.

Indirect transfer of solar energy is inefficient. Kinda like growing crops to feed cattle to feed people. Direct transfer of solar energy is like growing crops to directly feed people.The inefficient middle stop, where so much energy and resources are lost, is removed from the equation. Since realizing that I now live in paradise and have everything needed to thrive, I've built a rooftop food dehydrator—the sun's heat and the rising air current dry my raw foods consistently and thoroughly at low temperatures for nine months of the year.

Tonya Roof Clothes Line photo courtesy of Tonya KayAnd I haven't stopped there.  What about that non-regulated energy hog of apartment dwellers’ communal bane: the pay-per-use laundry room.  And although I can't avoid scrounging for six quarters every time I need clean socks, I can bypass the dryer, saving energy, the lifespan of clothing (people, lint is your clothes coming apart) and a $1.25 cycle fee. I've instead spent $10 on a 50-foot line of flax rope and two bags of wood clothes pins. I’ve strung that line between three secure jim-jaws on my use-prohibited rooftop so that, within an hour on windy, sunny days, my jeans are dry, my whites are whiter, I have spent part of the day outdoors and my clothes smell like wind and sunshine. I wear wind and sunshine. (I also built a solar food dehydrator on my roof. Here are the plans.)

Best of all, when I use my ingenuity to take the most simple approach to alternative energy, I "accidentally" build a relationship with some of the most powerful natural forces. And once we have a relationship, we can communicate. I listen to the Wind. And the Sun hears me. These small, ingenious actions are, more than anything, a ritual to the Earth. Because I have taken the time to gauge the Air's movements and scope the Sun's journey across the sky, I am gifted with the ability to feel the goodness and ecstasy of the Sun's heat penetrating my rooftop flesh, natural like the day I was born, wearing no more than the secret smile of royal satisfaction.

Who, here, does not the Sun feed?

Additional resources:
Air-Drying Laundry Does Both Earth and Wallet Good
Build a Solar Food Dehydrator—Easy, Detailed Plans

[Sign up to be notified each time Tonya publishes a new Clean and Green Everyday blog entry on EcoHearth. See a complete list of writing by Tonya Kay on or visit her Clean and Green Everyday blog. – Ed.]

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Comments (15)add
Written by Dave Raleigh , November 30, 2011
As a former bike shop manager, bike commuter and road racer, I hope you will all wear a helmet when you ride. Helmets saved me twice from serious injury. I never crashed in a race; it was always when I least expected it. If you want wind-dried hair, buy a convertible.
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Written by Solar Products , June 23, 2009
Thank you very much for given this post...
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Written by Tonya Kay , June 11, 2009
Hey, I have two human powered blenders. One is called the Vortex Hand Crank Blender (I won't suggest which online store to purchase from, but a google will yield many results). And I also have a bike powered blender which you can find at - Amy, you can ride to work, blend your smoothies and get that sexy wind dried hairstyle all at once! Here's a pic of my bike blender set up
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Written by Amy Hagemeier , June 09, 2009
I love how everyone let's the wind and sun take care of their hair. I commute on my bike and really, the hair not only dries on the bike ride, but has this awesome sexy look afterward. :)

But I suppose if you wear a helmet, you might get different results.

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Written by Rob Hoover , June 09, 2009
I throughly enjoyed this article!
You have shown how easy it is for anyone anywhere to do something towards making the world more green without having to spend money on some eco- organization which will then do the work for you.
Say. where can I get one of those hand-cranked blenders?

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Written by Tonya Kay , June 06, 2009
Nice practice! It's so easy and sometimes doesn't even seem like environmental crusading at all. It's more common sense and economical and pure enjoyment.
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Written by Beth , June 05, 2009
Another excellent article!

I also prefer to hair the air, wind, and sun dry my hair. Living in Canada I try to keep my hair short during the winter months so that I don't have to use a hair dryer.

Now that summer is here again, our umbrella style laundry line is getting used almost daily.
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Written by Duane , June 04, 2009
Another wonderful article. Thank you, Ms Kay!
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Written by Tonya Kay , June 04, 2009
I've been jim jawing things since I was a teenager - it's a regional term to denote DIY (Do It Yourself). Sometimes DIY projects are beautifully designed and well thought through, like my veggie oil car, Ron! Other times they are just a jim jaw way you came up with that suites your needs and your location only!

Thanks, Kathy, for suggesting you'd like to hear more about the rooftop dehydrator. I'll write more on that.
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Written by Kathy , June 03, 2009
I handwash lots of my clothes, (using the oxyclean) and hang them on the balcony to dry in the sun, but I had no idea this was environment friendly. The same thing with my hair, I will wash it, then go outside to dry-however, I do use the Chi, or it is so curly... If I know I am going to spending lots of time in the sun, or if it is a rainy day. I let it stay curly though. That too, I had no idea this was environment friendly. I would like to know more about that roof top food dehydrator.
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Written by Jim Dee , June 03, 2009
Wendi & I have a goal to live totally off the grid someday -- after we leave Pennsylvania, of course. (There isn't much sun here at all!) BTW, I love the word "jim-jaws." I'm using my Jim jaws right now to eat an apple. :-) -Jim
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Written by Ron Gilmore , June 03, 2009
Another great article by Ms. Kay. She impressed me several years ago when she told me about her transition to a veggie oil car, and continues to impress me with her dedication and ingenuity when it comes to living a green lifestyle.
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Written by Tonya Kay , June 03, 2009
Solar powered/wind powered hair drying - I love it! And the way you describe it, Joy, is the free feeling that makes life, no matter where you live, delicious.

And Joanna, did you know that in press terms, vegetarianism is considered "alternative lifestyle" too? I found this secretly comedic because as you and I know, it's not so alternative any more. Good on your hubby with solar panels surrounding the home - I can't wait to hear your adventures with that!

How else does the sun and wind provide direct power to us, with no need of conversion, I wonder?
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Written by Joanna Steven , June 03, 2009
Another wonderful article by the beautiful Tonya Kay. My husband has build a bunch of solar panels around the house and installed a few larger ones on the roof. His ham radio shack is all solar powered now! I feel lucky to be with someone as, shall I say, alternative, as I am :)
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Written by Joy Langtry , June 03, 2009
Thank you for this post. I love all your examples, and will add one of my own: Solar- and wind-powered hair drying. I love going outside fresh from the shower with my wet hair, and brushing it in the sunlight and wind. It feels wonderful!
I love your writing and am very glad you are doing it here.
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Eco Tip

Grow a garden or a fruit tree. A garden is fun, provides exercise, teaches kids about nature, reduces your carbon footprint (since your food need not be shipped to you), and controls what pesticides or chemicals do or do not go into the food you eat. Not to mention how delicious and nutritious fresh-picked fruits and vegetables are! More tips...

Eco Quote

Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.  - Chief Seattle, leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes, 1855   More quotes...