So I was just about to write on the second most popular new year’s resolution, which technically I should have done it yesterday. Just as soon as I finish sending this urgent email…typing… pressing send…and…no go. Something about my mailbox being completely full, please delete, yada yada? OK, now some quality message culling and I’m ready to start…just as soon as I get back from this meeting. Oh, and I need to update a document and then I can absolutely, totally write about the next resolution…getting your act together.

Getting organized usually involves going through our stuff. And we all have lots of stuff, don’t we? … Especially after the holiday spending season. Whether it’s your party shirt made of 7 lbs of solid gold or your MC Hammer pants you haven’t worn in decades but know are just about to hit fashion again…any second now…think about this wee mantra: use it or lose it. Use what you have, buy what you need, and get rid of the rest either by donating, selling, recycling or freecycling it. Set your bar, some say a year, 2 years, or a decade, and stick to it. If you haven’t touched it in that time, bid it adieu. Only throw things in the trash as a last resort (it drives me bat-feces crazy on organizational tv shows when people trash perfectly good stuff with nary a blue bin or donation bag in sight).

One person’s trash can be another one’s treasure. That’s the premise of Operation Green, a great project by busy Med students salvaging operating room supplies for developing countries. That’s also the premise behind this weekend’s swap event in Leslieville. Nathalie Roze is hosting their Winter Uber-SWAP: A Used & Vintage Clothing Exchange The trick here is to not go home with loads more than you came with. Or at least if you do, make sure you wear it.

There’s loads of stuff about stuff…how we make, use it and get rid of it, on the Story of Stuff . Or check out the Clean Bin Project, about one couple’s challenging and funny attempt at a zero waste, consumer-free year. There may be some good ideas you can use (or some over-the-top ones you can shake your head at…whatever works).

As part of our operation organization, let’s also try to buy less garbage. One of the greatest weapons of democracy we have sits in our purse or the back of our pants. We vote with our wallet every time we make a purchase. Every time we cha-ching at the cash register, we tell the manufacturer, promoter and dealer that we approve of their practices and think they’re pretty awesome. So let’s make sure we really do. Do they use recycled content? Reduce their packaging? Do something sustainable in some way? Or is it just more useless, toxic craptasticness made by a labour force paid in peanuts, destined for the back of the closet?

Speaking of wallets, that’s the other part of getting our act together…money management. One of the great ways to manage money is to measure it…and actually take the time to write up a household budget (stop rolling your eyes, it’s not that bad). It’s way easier to see what you could be doing if you can see what you currently do in one big picture. If you do, there are lots of places to save. Big energy bills? Why not try some cool conservation tricks? Pushing maximum carrying balance on your credit card (or cards)? Instead of depriving yourself by saying, I will not buy another thing (and wait for the inner backlash) first ask yourself whether you already have stuff that does the job, and only then consider that shiny new SomethingOrOther. And every little bit helps. My grandfather used to say “if you watch the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves”.

We recently tackled part of the garage and unearthed at least 7 identical vases, 5 wrenches and 6 novelty ice cube trays (including ice vampire teeth…cuz that’s what you want floating in your drink). Only then was I able to resist the pull of another ice cube tray (this time with Space Invader ships!). I finally realized that if we keep things organized, it’s easier to use the stuff we have and stop buying things again and again when I can’t for the life of me remember where I left them.

Getting organized, de-cluttering, managing our money, getting out of debt (aka managing someone else’s money)…these are all ways that we get our act together. And I’m going to do a whole whack of these…starting tomorrow.