Common Myths about Joining a Co-op
Why Join a Co-op?
To most foodies, gardeners, people looking for a more ethical lifestyle, those looking for ways to purchase or grow fresh produce, and those who want to start making a difference to the state of the earth, Cooperatives – including our very own People’s Co-op at Save the Earth – are a relatively hidden treasure. Why hidden, you might ask? Our recent Facebook group survey confirmed our suspicions that many people are not entirely sure how co-ops work—or how to get involved.
This article clears up the top misunderstandings in a flash. Keep reading to get concrete answers to frequently asked questions about joining a Cooperative. The facts may well surprise you!
Why Join a Coop? Only Hippies/Vegans/Vegetarians/Farmers are Co-op Members. It’s not for me.
This couldn’t be less true. Vegan, steak-lover, cashew-consumer, bacon sandwich fiend – everyone is welcome at the co-op. Just do your shopping like you would anywhere else. Once you realize the benefits of co-op shopping, you might want to find out more about the benefits of membership, too.
By shopping with a cooperative, not only do you know that you are making ethical choices, but you are also investing in environmental and social projects as well.
Being a co-op member is largely philanthropic and does not benefit members personally in reality.
In some cases, this may be true in the purely economic sense. But shouldn’t you be asking yourself WHY other sources of food, gardening supplies, holidays, and so on are so cheap? Doesn’t that question bother you just a little? Are the products you buy good for your health? Do they support the long-term sustainability of your family and friends? And wouldn’t you like to see a regeneration of the local community, a revival of the high streets and city centres? Exactly how many chicken shops and betting offices DOES one town need?
Have Your Say
Members can vote in co-op issues and get the opportunity to select which ethical investments are made, so they get a say in how the co-op works and where it spends its money. One member, one vote – nice and simple ( and equitable to boot). That is more opportunity to have your say than in most realities of life. Think about it….
There’s no reason to become a member – why join a co-op?
While Coops welcome everyone, there are definite benefits to becoming a member.
For example, members can vote in co-op issues, so they get a say in how the co-op works and where money is spent. Speaking of money, when the co-op makes a profit, members may also be eligible for dividends like any investment. Save the Earth members will also be eligible for a monthly cash draw and able to download how-to guides and get additional support in starting your own community. With any co-op, so long as you shop with them at least once a month, the benefits are likely to exceed your investment, and additionally you’ll be part of a growing movement to change how things work. Look here for more information about the reasons for becoming members of coops.
Being a co-op member means I have to join the board (or work part-time at the co-op, or do something else I’m not really sure I want to do).
Actually all you have to do is keep your membership running to enjoy the full benefits at a Co-op. Naturally, you can put yourself forward for the board, vote on investment opportunities, or participate in co-op events if you like, but your level of participation is completely up to you.
At Save the Earth, if you have a great idea for a new business, but lack the funds or the business expertise, as a member you can submit your business plans to the business team for a negligible fee and they will handle the business plan and sort out funding applications and/ or investment for your idea. (If members agree that your idea is a good one, that is).
I can’t afford to join a co-op.
Many co-ops have a free subscription based membership, as well as the financially based one, so even if you’re living hand-to-mouth or trying to make ends meet on a meagre state pension, please don’t let that stop you becoming part of a movement to change how we relate with the earth and, most importantly, with each other.
For more information about the Save the Earth Cooperative, go to the Membership section.
To register as a FREE member of Save the Earth Cooperative, fill in the form below.