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



The Seven Cooperative Principles: Part 2

By Alexis Alexander,
Membership Manager

This month we’ll complete our review of the seven Cooperative Principles. These principles are central to the operations of co-ops worldwide, and help highlight the difference between values-driven cooperatives and profit-driven corporations.

Principle #4: Autonomy & Independence. Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations that enter into agreements with other organizations in ways that maintain the co-op’s independence and democratic control by the members.

Some of the more interesting agreements GreenStar enters into are with other cooperative organizations, such as the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). NCGA itself is a co-op whose members are natural food cooperatives. NCGA negotiates wholesale buying agreements and coupon programs, providing better prices than their member co-ops could achieve individually. Still, GreenStar maintains its purchasing autonomy because NCGA doesn’t dictate what products we carry in our store — that is decided by our buyers who order based on guidelines that GreenStar members establish through our product policies.

Principle #5: Education, Training and Information. Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They also educate the public on the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

This past year we significantly increased our outreach to local colleges, attending events and conducting store tours and food demonstrations in order to educate college students about cooperatives, natural foods and sustainability. More recently, our Marketing Department began an educational outreach program to teach high school students about whole foods and nutrition, and the role bulk buying and cooperatives play in enhancing wellness in a sustainable and affordable way. The high school students, once trained, will have the opportunity to extend the program to the middle school.

Principle #6: Cooperation among Cooperatives. Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

As mentioned above, we are actively engaged with other co-ops throughout the country through membership in various co-op organizations. GreenStar staff and Councilmembers are in constant contact with other natural food co-ops to share information on operational and marketing strategies, and membership programs. A great example of cooperation in action is our new FLOWER program. The first step in designing FLOWER was to put a message out on an email list maintained by the Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network. Several co-ops responded, sending us their applications, brochures and procedures for their low income discount programs. By learning what other co-ops are doing — what has worked and what hasn’t — we can design better programs.

Principle #7: Concern for Community. Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

Our Living Wage policy, Product Line policy and our Ecological Responsibility & Leadership policy are prime examples of GreenStar’s members voting to establish guidelines that allow us to stay true to our commitment to work towards local, national and global sustainability, and social and economic justice. The current ban on products produced in the People’s Republic of China reflects the concern many GreenStar members have over the atrocities that have occurred in Tibet at the hands of the Chinese government. Our One-Minute Activist program enables GreenStar members to collectively voice their concerns and desires to people in key decision-making positions, thereby influencing the outcomes of critical decisions by our government officials. And, by simply shopping at GreenStar, we, as members, put our money where our values lie, in support of an alternate economic system that puts people’s well-being and the protection of our endangered environment first.

For more information on the Cooperative Principles, visit the International Cooperative Alliance website: www.ica.coop.

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