We get asked by many devout fans why we use non-recyclable clamshell packaging.  So this post is going to dive deep into this concern, because we at Top Hat agree that conserving the planet is essential.  (Pssst.  Clamshells ARE recyclable, and we will show you how!)

You may not know that when a food producer chooses a package, they test many many types of packaging.  The packages are filled with the food product and then a comprehensive scientific study known as a “shelf life study” is conducted.  The rate of spoilage over time is calculated, as well as various other factors.  The packages that work best are then contenders for the food producer.

Here at Top Hat, after many months of study, we found that clamshell packaging preserved the mushrooms best, and extended their shelf life by weeks.  Other packaging materials did not help to safeguard our Shiitake, and they spoiled quickly.

Why is it important to have a long shelf life?

We currently use the clamshell packaging because it drastically increases the longevity of the mushrooms inside.  This is extremely important to us because 1 in 6 American children live in a state of food insecurity, and don’t know where their next meal will come from.  Furthermore, roughly 30 to 40 percent of the American food supply is wasted, and globally roughly 1.3 billion tons of food is tossed out and wasted.  If our food were not wasted, the amount that is thrown out would be more than enough to feed the millions of people suffering from hunger.  We have children ourselves, and it breaks our hearts knowing that kids in our towns and around the world are suffering.  That’s why we do all we can to ensure our mushrooms don’t have to be thrown out due to inadequate packaging that causes the mushrooms to age more quickly.

Using Recycled Materials

With that being said, we also care deeply about the environment, and understand that the plastic clamshells are no longer accepted by recycling companies like they once were.  Recycling plants used to send the clamshells overseas, but they are no longer able to do this, and the cost of recycling the clamshells (because of the process used to do so) became a hurdle.  While we researched the best way to package our mushrooms, we learned that plastic cannot be recycled indefinitely.  Because of this, we use clamshells made from recycled materials (old water bottles for example) which keeps those items behind us in the chain out of landfills, and encourages companies to continue recycling.   This is a good solution for us right now while we continue to search for a better product, and until manufacturers can create a more sustainable product without sacrificing the shelf life of the food within.

Clamshells ARE Recyclable!  Here’s how to do it!

Did you know that clamshells actually ARE recyclable?   You can save your clamshells (don’t throw them out!) and enter your zip code at the website below.  It will pop up the facilities that DO recycle clams in your area!  Check out Earth 911 to find a location near you.


At a quick glance, there are several sites in Vancouver, one in Sandy, OR.  That was what popped up after a quick search for 97009.  Give it a try!  You can collect your clamshells and make a trip to the recycling facility once a month or whenever your bin is full.

Get creative!  Reuse and Repurpose your Top Hat Clamshells!  We do!!

The shells can also be reused in your kitchen.  Consider using them to hold other food products once your mushrooms are gone, such as bread chunks to make your own croutons, divide fruits in your crisper with them, use them to hold your lunch salads, or your meal preps, put tubby toys in them so they dry out after a bath and stay contained… or countless other ways.

Whenever possible, we use easily recycled materials

All of our shipping materials, master cases etc. are made from recycled materials and are also recyclable.


Thank you for caring about our planet!

Valued customers, we hear your concern, and it is our concern as well.  We continue to research and work with packaging manufacturers until we can find a sustainable package with a lower carbon footprint, one that is more easily recycled.  Until then, we are happy that our food waste is drastically less, which means less hungry kids, and that there IS an option to recycle clamshells, albeit perhaps not as convenient as tossing them into your mixed recycle bins.


Thank you for your continued commitment to making the world a cleaner and better place for all!



The Gillette Family and the Top Hat Team