Everyone has heard the old wives tale that a broken mirror will leave its assailant with seven years of bad luck. People, even those who are not superstitious, tend to squirm at the very sound of the breaking of the reflective glass in their home. Prior to that moment, the mirror had provided the owner with smiles back at their own, a place to check that last piece of their accessories, and even a way to brighten their room that would otherwise seem small and dim. The fact is that the bad luck is not a superstition. The only part that is not accurate is that it is not only the breaker who is the recipient of this bad luck. Even more so, it is not only the human race who can suffer from the curse of the broken mirror. Every living species, every critical factor in an ecosystem, and every future generation actually reaps the detrimental effects of a broken mirror. The issue is that mirrors are in nearly every household and eventually these mirrors break. Although many people are really informed about the necessity of recycling, research has shown that “unfortunately, recycling of mirror glass is not possible due to the coating on the back” (“How to Recycle Mirror Glass”). Even when the mirrors do not come from within a household, “each year, 10,000 tons of mirror waste are generated by six mirror manufacturers in North Carolina” (“Mirror, Mirror”). Notably, that is only in one state of one nation. The amount of mirror waste is astronomical when one considers the usage and manufacturing of mirrors as a global scenario.
While the chemical makeup and the backing prevent mirrors from being recycled, there are other options such as crafting. In fact, researchers explain that “broken glass makes great crafts and decorations, especially mosaics. Check out craft ideas here or find an art studio, pottery studio, or art supply store that might want them” (“Are Mirrors Recyclable?”). Other options include a municipal approach whereas the waste management resources work towards “standardizing the collection and analysis of solid waste data” (Vergara and Tchobanoglous 277). In other words, as the broken mirrors cannot be recycled, the process of sorting out other waste that can be recycled should be a primary focus in order to reduce the impact that the broken mirrors have on the environment. Additionally, researchers suggests that the process of recycling should provide an economic benefit to the households as “there is an increased interest across the country in recycling and composting but it does obviously help a lot if the local municipality provides correct economic incentives and good physical infrastructure that facilitates environmentally sound waste management” (Bartelings and Sterner 489). In other words, the impact to the environment could be improved with the proper incentives.
In sum, mirrors are a common household item that, through the waste created by the users and the manufacturers, are causing a detrimental effect on the environment through the increased waste in the landfills. As the backing of the glass and the chemicals involved in the production of mirrors make them difficult, if not impossible, to recycle, there are very few recommendations for avoiding this negative impact to the environment. These options include using the glass for crafts or selling it to a craft market if one is available in the area, improving the recycling activities for other items, and providing an economic incentive for the recycling programs. While the latter of these two options cannot reduce the amount of broken mirrors that end up in the landfills and in the environment, the added awareness of this waste could ignite the realization that any item that can be recycled must be recycled to diminish the effects of the broken mirror curse to the environment.
- “Are Mirrors Recyclable?” Keen for Green. Nd. Web. 10 April 2016.
Bartelings, Heleen, and Thomas Sterner. “Household waste management in a Swedish
municipality: determinants of waste disposal, recycling and composting.” Environmental
and resource economics 13.4 (1999): 473-491.
- “How to Recycle Mirror Glass.” Ebay.com. 3 April 2014. Web. 10 April 2016.
- “Mirror, Mirror–Where Will You Go When You’re Off The Wall?.” Biocycle 38.4 (1997):
20. Business Source Elite. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
- Vergara, Sintana E., and George Tchobanoglous. “Municipal solid waste and the environment: a
global perspective.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 37 (2012): 277-309.