A sense of nostalgia with pick 'N' mix

Updated: May 21

Growing up, pick 'N' mix was something a weekly treat was made from. Whether we had ten pence or a pound, we would procrastinate and deliberate for at least half an hour before prudently selecting from what seemed like an endless, limitless sugarcane dream.

Small hands can only carry a certain amount of small change, so it was important to think about selection because time was deathless when we were 9 years old.

The beauty of buying raw ingredients such as legumes and other plant-based ingredients is there is no singular-use waste packaging and we can buy as little or as much as we desire. We are not forced to buy 600g when we only need 100g for a recipe. Despite what some people think, we can save money shopping this way and there is a real sense of nostalgia when we carefully select, pour and weigh each raw ingredient.

When I lived in England I used to feel this same sense of freedom when I was in a health-food shop. The sweet smell of herbs, health and goodness as I entered the store, quite the opposite of my confectionary trip down memory lane. Like many locations in England, there are multiple farmers markets and bio food options offering optimum raw ingredients, however, raw ingredient shops and refill shops are literally in abundance all over Barcelona, Spain. There is a real sense of community in each barrio, where we queue for fresh bread from the bakery, stopping for a cafe solo on route to the deli where everyone happily queues for Spanish olives, local cheese and oil. There is a specialist food shop in every direction so it is important to support each small business and here in Barcelona, we do.

Even my neighbourhood cinema refrains from selling confectionary pick-n-mix, instead they direct consumers across the street to an independently owned pick-n-mix confectionary shop. This is exactly how to keep shops in our local community open. The cinema sells films, so allow someone else to prosper from the gravy train.


Bulk buying raw ingredients focuses on waste prevention encouraging the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The aim is for no trash or waste packaging to be sent to landfill, incinerators or to the ocean. The real beauty of buying dry unbranded raw ingredients is it allows us to shop with an optimum level of consumption. Until singular-use waste packaging is more tightly regulated with PET 1 (or PETE 1) or Biodegradable packaging we can make small-big steps at home, at work and in schools.


Here are five reasons to reduce waste at home and consider shopping this way:

  1. Reduce singular-use waste pollution - by taking your own shopping bags and refillable containers. Independent local shop owners love it when you rock up with your own bags and tubs. It is easy.

  2. Reduce our weekly shopping bill - by cooking from scratch with raw ingredient and growing a few fruit trees and herbs pots.

  3. Control and optimise weekly consumption - ultimately living a healthier lifestyle

  4. Reduce weekly domestic waste - this is work in progress, small-big steps have an impact.

  5. Support small independent local businesses - source specialist shops.

People from all over the world love British products that are made in Britain, so following Brexit, this is food for thought because there really are new business opportunities for everyone to explore.

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Outside A Circus

Outside a Circus is an eccentric hat shop inspired by plants and nature, Shopping tours in Barcelona and a green fashion, shopping and interiors blog.

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