I’m a sustainability consultant and I help small organisations to become a bit more sustainable. When I’m with clients, we often talk about purpose. I thought I’d use those conversations this month to get you thinking!

What’s the purpose of your workplace? Why do you go to work every day? What motivates you as an individual?

If you’re lucky, you’ll have answers to these questions beyond paying the bills, which can help you develop a sustainability plan for you and your company.

The Comet: Sustainability columnist Jo HenekerSustainability columnist Jo Heneker (Image: Courtesy of Jo Heneker)

My work purpose, for example, is to help small organisations become a bit more sustainable, as I really believe everyone can contribute to making the world a better place.

However, if you’re not sure what your organisation’s purpose is, look at the vision and/or mission statements. If you run your own business, you could have a go at writing them down if you haven’t already. A clear vision makes it easier to focus on your objectives and take positive action for the planet and your community.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips:

1. Why did I set up my business?

2. What was the inspiration behind it?

3. Why am I good at what I do?

4. Who am I trying to help?

5. Has anything changed or evolved in my business since I set it up?

6. What are my values?

If you work for an organisation and you’re not sure what its purpose is, or there isn’t a mission statement, think about who the organisation is trying to help, and the problem it’s trying to solve

1. What does the company care about?

2. What goals matter most?

3. Is there a cause the business is supporting beyond profit?

4. What is the organisation good at and what are customers are paying for?

Then think about how your role within the business fits into the purpose. If you’re feeling very brave, you could share your thoughts with your manager! The more we talk about the importance of purpose at work, the better.

By now, you should have an idea of what your business purpose is (beyond making a few quid) and you can start linking it to sustainability. You could use the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to help you (see the picture): pick a couple that fit with your purpose and resonate. (you could also do this at home with your family).

Say you work for a clothes retailer, you might choose No Poverty - goal 1 - so you work with suppliers to ensure they are paying a fair wage, and Responsible Consumption and Production - goal 12 – to aim to reduce the amount of waste from fashion and encourage people to make their clothes last longer.

Having specific goals in mind can really help you to develop and stick to a plan of how you will make your business (or family) a bit better for our planet.

My next few posts will focus on some of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in more detail. You can also find out more about the goals https://www.globalgoals.org/, and via my Instagram @sust.consulting