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



GreenStar Membership-More Than Just a Discount!

By Alexis Alexander,
Membership Manager

September seems an appropriate time to remind ourselves exactly what it means to be a member-owner of GreenStar. September is when our community experiences a significant influx of new college students who are eager to become part of the Ithaca community. Many may think that GreenStar is just another grocery store. But as GreenStar member-owners, we know our two stores are much more than that. So what can we say to new folks in town (or anyone for that matter) who aren’t aware of what GreenStar really is?

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 benefit that GreenStar provides its member-owners is access to wholesome, natural food and quality products at the lowest practical price. We do this in a way that exercises ecological responsibility, fair treatment of employees, promotion of local farmers and products, and good community stewardship. We also operate in a way that keeps our resources and profits in the local community.

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

But member-ownership is more than just 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 co-op. 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 only have individual adult memberships. This surprises many people, but GreenStar does not have household memberships since households with more than one adult member-owner would have to choose who could vote. Instead, we opted for less expensive individual memberships so every member-owner in the Co-op could vote. It also means that any adult who wants to vote or receive discount benefits needs to join the Co-op him or herself.

As a cooperative, GreenStar is part of an international community of cooperatives that abide by seven principles adopted from the successful practices of the Rochdale Pioneers, who established co-ops in the 1800s. In this way, GreenStar contributes in a much broader sense. As we educate people on 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.

And, don’t forget! Our Second Annual Labor Day Ice Cream Social is on Monday, Sept. 6 in GreenStar’s parking lot at 2 pm and will continue until the ice cream runs out. Please join us to celebrate all of GreenStar’s working members, both paid employees and member labor volunteers, who work hard to make GreenStar all it is!

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