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About Us

Our Conservation Philosophy

Full Circle Trade has evolved out of our work with the conservation and development of natural resources. Beginning with an interest in forest ecosystems and plants, we quickly learned that to achieve sustainable balances between humans and the natural world, the needs of humans must be addressed.

We believe that “sustainability” must address three branches of an integrated system: natural environment, economics, and social norms.

Forest use in conservation
Subsistence-level societies tend to pressure people to increase exploitation of their natural surroundings; in industrialized societies, the pressures tend to be towards conservation. This sets up a tension in which industrialized societies wish to influence subsistence societies not to fully exploit their natural resources, but to preserve, conserve, and manage them.

Economic need drives much local-level forest exploitation, regardless of the inhabitants’ understanding of the value of conservation. This is particularly true in developing regions, where subsistence farming, rather than corporate exploitation, is responsible for much of the loss of intact forest ecosystems.

Full Circle Trade actively searches to direct this tension between conservation and use by identifying trading partners who work to secure the conservation, through preservation or management, of local natural resources.

Sustainable livelihoods versus short-term benefits
People living at subsistence levels exploit forest resources out of need—to convert forestland to agriculture, or to harvest extra fruit or make extra baskets to sell for cash to pay for family needs such as food, medicine, or school fees. Even if they understand the need for environmental conservation and management in the long term, their immediate needs for exploitation take precedence.

The mission of Full Circle Trade is to provide economic incentives to the careful use and management of natural resources. We work with local conservation and development groups and initiatives to identify and maintain both economic and educational reward systems to draw out the benefits of harvesting and managing natural resources in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Social support
We believe that through long-term efforts to address environmental sustainability, and fairly direct trade relationships with artisans—especially women—and rural communities, a low-overhead business such as Full Circle Trade can have a surprising impact in the lives of many rural people. Through incentives, education and partnership, we can also tie our business activities to increased attention to the careful management of natural resources and the ecosystems from which they harvest their materials.