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In search of a new investing environment

Mark Winstein wants to paint Wall Street green.

A self-described environmental entrepreneur, Winstein says it’s rare when investors find big companies whose operations nurture the earth.

“The financial world has tried to tell people that nothing matters except the bottom line. But people who live their values realize there’s no such thing as a value-neutral investment,” Winstein said.

“When you hold stock in a company whose values are opposite your own, you’re providing them with the financial means to continue” things you may abhor, like manufacturing guns, growing tobacco and stripping foreign oil fields, he said.

His fix? Ecostructure Financial, a Portland-based online company he founded in 2001 that links environmental entrepreneurs with potential investors and is also working to create new environmentally-friendly financial services products.

Ultimately, Winstein hopes to foster for-profit businesses and projects that benefit forests, rivers, coral reefs, open space and people, according to the company Web site.

Through the Ecostructure Financial Web site, subscribers pay a monthly fee to post the green products and services they’ve developed. Investors, who also pay a fee, can search the Web site for start-ups that mirror their ecological philosophies.

Winstein said visitors will find “thousands of opportunities with the most amazing businesses you’ll never hear about on Wall Street, Winstein said.

Winstein embraces capitalism as the best way to get the green ball rolling. Inventing and selling systems that solve or respect environmental concerns is the surest way to encourage wholesale, positive change, he said.

Down the road, Winstein hopes to offer mutual funds that allow average investors to support early-stage ecological business and infrastructure. As it is now, he said, only an elite group of investors is seeking out such companies and products. He wants everybody to be able to have a crack at these new ventures.

Eventually, “we’d be able to actually tailor a (new) portfolio of companies whose missions are to solve ecological problems,” he said.