GE additive blog
Engineering a More Sustainable Life
Laura Bauer of GE Additive interviewed a GE engineer who made a life-changing decision to pursue her passion for sustainability and responsible shopping.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to one of our GE Additive engineers who took a leap of faith to invest in something she cares deeply about – sustainability and ethical choices. Marie-Christin demonstrates how one person pursuing her passion can help change the world. Here is her story.
For many people, the pandemic created space to think about their lives and purpose. An engineer at GE Additive in Lichtenfels, Germany, used this time to act on something that had been deep in her heart for years – what could she personally do in her life to improve society and the environment?
Marie-Christin Ebert has worked at GE Additive, and previously at Concept Laser, in a variety of engineering roles over the last 10 years, applying her background in physics to optical labs and product teams as a systems engineer.
In 2020 Marie-Christin decided to listen to her heart and make a big life change. She talked to her supervisor, Boris Eichenberg, about moving to part time to pursue something that was important to her.
She reduced her working hours at GE to 20 hours a week and opened a sustainable clothing store in her hometown of Coburg, Germany.
“Deep down, I have a strong desire to make the world a better place. My mission is to motivate myself and others to find ways to be more sustainable and ethical – in small and big ways,” she explained.
“When Marie-Christin approached us, we were pleased that she took this approach,” Boris added. “She is an important part of our team, and we need people who think like her at GE. I am glad she is able to pursue both a career with us and run her sustainable clothing store.”
Her shop, Nachhall, is in the heart of historic Coburg, which sits about 100 kilometers north of Nuremburg and is home to about 40,000 people.
“Before I opened the shop, there weren’t any sustainable options in town,” she said. “Now, my friends and family have a place to ethically shop, and I really enjoy explaining the process of sustainable shopping with my customers and community. We can all make a difference, but the first step is understanding the problem.”
Her conviction is about the planet and also the people.
"Fast fashion is notorious for paying very low wages and poor working conditions,” she explained. “The heart of slow fashion is to pay a livable wage and to stop resource exploitation and oppressive labor practices. We need to be aware of the impact of our purchases and how it impacts people and the planet."
She explained that the goal is to move from a linear economy, where resources are used and then trashed, to a circular economy, where everything is reused.
“We have not fully arrived, but every decision we make can make a difference and gets us on the right path,” she explained.
On the days when she puts on her engineering hat at GE Additive, sustainability is still in her sights. She is part of the Lichtenfels Green Team, which recently formed to make the site and company more sustainable.
“Similar to slow fashion, at GE, we are looking for ways in the near future to motivate our colleagues to be more eco-friendly. This includes small things, like recycling paper and reducing waste, to bigger solutions, like installing solar panels on our campus and reducing our CO2 emissions,” she said. “We have many ideas, and I am grateful that GE is a company committed to improving its environmental footprint and takes this seriously.”
Marie-Christin also walks the walk in her personal life. She always tries to shop without packaging and rides her bike or takes public transportation when possible.
“We are all on a journey, and opening the store was part of my commitment to listening to my convictions and acting on them. I opened the store to find a solution and make the change I was looking for. We have choices in our lives, and I wanted to make choices that I would look back on and be proud of.”
I am inspired by Marie-Christin's drive and desire to make the world a better place. Our conversation made me think about my own shopping habits (the footprint for a family of five can be significant) and how one person can make a difference. Thank you, Marie-Christin, for your time and story.