What is Membership?

Since the beginning, GreenStar's mission focused on making nutritious, whole food available to its members. But membership means more than just access to good, healthy food...

When you join the Co-op you become a Member-Owner of a locally-owned and cooperatively operated values-based business. We focus on the social and environmental impact GreenStar makes on our local and global community, as well as economic performance. We put our values first, and return all profits back to the Co-op or donate them to the community.

The co-operative business model has proven to be a strong alternative to traditional profit-driven businesses. And, for every dollar you spend in a locally-owned business or cooperative, 45 cents is return to the community, compared to only 13 cents when you spend a dollar at a chain store.

One Member – One Vote means your voice truly counts!

Like all consumer co-ops, GreenStar is owned and democratically run by the people who use the store. Unlike traditional corporations where the amount of a stockholder's investment determines his or her voting power, every member at GreenStar has equal voting rights. As a Member-Owner, you have an equal say in the future direction of GreenStar.

By investing and participating in your co-op, you're putting your values into action.

Through your Equity Share investment and patronage, GreenStar supports the health and well-being of our member-owners, our community and the planet by:

  • Purchasing from local farmers and businesses
  • Paying a livable wage
  • Using clean energy and recycled office supplies
  • Supporting organic agriculture and fair trade producers
  • Offering health insurance to employees
  • Donating to local charities and events
  • Providing education on nutrition, health and sustainability
  • Improving access to healthy food to those on limited budgets through the FLOWER program



Co-op Membership: More Than Just a Discount!

By Alexis Alexander, 

Membership Manager

coop-rocks-300pxThe cooperative movement is strong and growing, here in Ithaca and around the world. According to Worldwatch Institute, there are currently one billion cooperative members worldwide. With the world facing much economic hardship and uncertainty, diminishing natural resources, and a global-warming crisis, many have turned to cooperatives as trusted organizations that support local, sustainable development and long-term security.

We experience this surge in interest every day at GreenStar. By the end of April, our growth in new memberships was 10 percent higher than at the same time last year, a significant figure given our status as a mature co-op. Even with this growth, I wonder about those still not being reached, people who could really benefit from being a part of our co-op but aren't aware of what it offers. As a cooperative, we have the responsibility to educate others about this model and the values-based principles that guide it. One way member-owners can support the Co-op is by participating in this education process through conversations with people in our community. For many non-members, it's easy to think that GreenStar is just another grocery store. But as GreenStar members-owners, we know our two stores offer much more than a place to shop.

So what can we say to those who aren't aware of what GreenStar is really about? First and foremost, as a cooperative, GreenStar is a member-owned, self-governing organization that exists for the benefit of its member-owners. This means that every person who becomes a member of GreenStar is actually a part-owner of the Co-op. Simply stated, the central benefit that GreenStar provides its member-owners is access to wholesome, natural food and other high-quality products at the lowest practical prices. We do this in a way that exercises ecological responsibility, fair treatment of employees, promotion of local farmers and products, and good community stewardship.

Our commitment to social justice is further reflected in the food justice work of our nonprofit affiliate, GreenStar Community Projects; in our commitment to diversity and inclusivity in hiring and Co-op operations; and through the FLOWER program, which provides a higher discount to low-income member-owners. We also operate in a way that keeps our resources and profits within the local community.

As member-owners, we're able to pool our resources to achieve greater economic results than any of us could do individually. Economically, we each exercise our ownership by paying a $90 capital contribution and by shopping in the store. In addition, many member-owners volunteer through our Member Labor Program to help perform tasks in the store and offices, or to serve on Council committees. In return, our member-owners receive a discount at the register, with member-workers earning a higher discount based on whether they work on a monthly or weekly basis. In this way, our profits are shared equitably among all member-owners based on levels of participation.

But member-ownership means more than just receiving a discount! Cooperatives are run democratically. Unlike Sam's Club, BJ's, and other discount "clubs," co-op ownership means that you have a say in the running of the organization. At GreenStar, we exercise our ownership by voting in elections and on specific policy decisions and referendums. The mantra in the co-op world is "One member, one vote." In fact, this is why, long ago, GreenStar decided to have only individual adult memberships. It surprises many people that GreenStar doesn't offer household memberships, but the rationale is simple: households with more than one adult member-owner would have to choose who could vote. We therefore opted for less expensive individual memberships so that every member-owner in the Co-op has an equal vote. This also means that any adult who wants to receive discount benefits and get that vote needs to make a conscious decision and take action to join the Co-op.

Run locally by and for those who own it, GreenStar is also part of a dynamic international community of cooperatives. We join the others in abiding by seven principles adopted from the successful practices of the Rochdale Pioneers, who are credited for establishing the modern-day cooperative model in the 1800s. In this way, GreenStar contributes to more than the well-being of its member-owners and the local economy. As we educate people about cooperatives and more people join GreenStar, we contribute to building a values-based economic system that puts people first by focusing on economic and social equity over profits. As member-owners, we can take a deep breath of profound satisfaction and pride in being a part of this beautiful movement.

Volunteer Opportunities!

We're looking for GreenStar member-owners interested in volunteering at the Juneteenth celebration at Southside Community Center on Saturday, June 15. The two-hour shifts will include set-up and breakdown before and after, and monitoring children's activities throughout the event. Volunteers will earn a 17.5 percent super-worker discount for one week. A few shifts are still available for the GIAC Festival on June 8 as well. If you're interested in helping out at either festival or both, please sign up at the Member Center at either store, or call the Membership Department at 607.273.9392.

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