On the dock and in an up-cycled cargo container in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, you’ll find Simon Sobolewski and Libby Gibson. This duo are the founders, business partners and husband and wife owners of Red Fish Blue Fish, a grab-and-good seafood eatery.
Having owned restaurants in Vancouver, Simon and Libby decided they wanted to try something different and Victoria seemed the perfect spot. “English culture was strong, and we wanted to present fish and chips - an old favourite in our new way,” says Simon.
As such, Red Fish Blue Fish present their culinary creations in a way only a visionary could create. With the goal to operate an environmentally sustainable business, Red Fish Blue Fish needed a partner that understood their vision. “We found reFUSE Resource Recovery and have been a customer of reFUSE since the very beginning,” explains Simon. “We structured our entire business and operational practice around the material that reFUSE can collect, recycle and compost. Operating a sustainable business and decreasing our environmental footprint is the foundation of our restaurant.”
“Red Fish Blue Fish was one of our very first customers,” explains John Vogelgesang, Operations Manager for reFUSE. “It’s a close working relationship and we provide service to the restaurant seven days a week from February to November. We collect everything: organics, recycling - including soft plastic, cardboard and glass, and the little bit of waste they do produce.”
“It was Libby really, she helped me to see the light,” confesses Simon when asked why he chose to take his restaurant down this path. The effort was big in the beginning and as a business owner, they had to make tuff choices along the way. “Compostable cutlery has gone through three different stages, from wooden, which was almost impossible to find, to potato starch which was six times more expensive back in 2007 and now cutlery is everywhere in compostable formats.”
And every time Red Fish Blue Fish made an operational change around the types of material they used, their first stop was reFUSE. “We had to figure out if reFUSE could handle the new material. Their opinion and partnership are important to us.”
And the sustainable efforts of Red Fish Blue Fish expand well past their cutlery. The restaurant only serves Ocean Wise seafood – that which is caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long term health and stability of the species and marine ecosystem. The actual building is made from an upcycled shipping container complete with a green roof to lower the environmental footprint and 100 per cent of the packaging presented to the customer is recyclable or compostable.
When we asked Simon if going green has helped business he explained that the restaurant was based on those practices, so part of the success is, part in parcel of what the business is. And, his advice to other restaurant owners thinking of taking the green plunge. “Make the effort, it pays off in the long run. As a consumer, you want to support the places that make an effort. As a restaurant owner, you know you are doing the right thing and customers want to support those that are doing the right thing.”