I Tried the New Shower Liner That Takes the Guilt Out of Tossing Your Old One
A replenishment plan made me feel more at ease.
Updated Feb 14, 2022 11:38 AM
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I knew my shower liner had hit rock bottom when I found myself in my tub on hands and knees dousing the sheet with bleach and scrubbing away at the mold with a stainless steel pad. Every six to eight months or so, I return to this exact position: In an effort to put off throwing away all that plastic, I tiptoe around a grimy liner longer than I should. It’s a lose-lose situation.
“It’s like Sophie’s Choice,” says Luke Young. Having grown up in London where every household seems to have seven different types of recycling containers, Young was shocked when he moved to New York City and realized the only place to send his gross shower liners was the landfill. The dilemma ultimately inspired him to launch a side project called Drip that was essentially a subscription shower liner business, and the product was 100 percent nontoxic. That endeavor eventually evolved into the new DTC brand Outlines, which he and cofounder Meg Murphy officially launched this month with its debut product, the Shower Liner System. Their motto? “Stop showering next to a dirty shower liner.” Naturally, I was desperate to give it a try.
Here’s how it works: You hop onto the website and take a five-question quiz that determines how often you should be replacing your liner. The survey considers factors such as the quality of your water, how often you take a shower, and whether or not there’s a vent in your space. Based on your answers, it will give you a recommendation of either a three-, six-, or nine-month replenishment plan (around 80 percent of users fall into the six-month frequency of change—as did I). “It’s only people who are showering more than twice a day, leaving their liner bunched up, not opening a window, and using creamy, thick products that need to change it out more frequently than that,” notes Young.
The initial box I received included a set of 12 hooks (but you can order yours without them if you already own some), the Keep (a sliver of cotton canvas that goes directly onto the hooks—you don’t replace this part), the Replen (a certified-PEVA liner that you will eventually replace), and two small weights that you can slip into the bottom corners to prevent the sheet from billowing.
While I did have to complete the dreaded task of unhooking my old liner in order to attach the clean Keep canvas, installing the Replen sheet was surprisingly easy, as it attaches via magnets. The next time I go to replace my liner, all I have to do is snap the fresh one on—no upper arm strength required. The cost of the very first package starts at $50, depending on whether you opt for the hooks or not, and the replenishment boxes from there on are $25, which seems pricey at first but the value also includes a shipping label to send your old liner back (more on that in a minute).
So how is this liner any different from the $10 version you’re probably already buying from Bed Bath & Beyond? I found peace of mind in the material. Unlike many liners that are made out of PVC (the least recyclable of all plastics), Outlines’s product is PEVA that is certified by a third party to ensure it’s nontoxic. The Replen section is also 30 percent thicker than most liners, giving it a stiffness that encourages you to keep it drawn out, meaning it dries faster and prevents mold build-up. Another bonus is that the silicone-coated anchors are removable and dishwasher-safe, compared to other liners that have metal rings to help weigh them down. “The minute you have plastic and metal mixed, it can’t be recycled,” notes Young. Finally, just the simple fact that you only end up needing to replace two-thirds of the liner instead of the whole thing equals less plastic waste in the long-run.
According to the brand, once you get your new liner sent to you (I’ve still got a few months ahead of me), you’ll notice there will be a green compostable mailer in the box with a label. The idea is to stick your used liner in the sleeve, slap on the label, and drop it off at the post office. When the not-so-hot liner arrives back at Outlines, the mailers get industrially composted and the shower liners head to their recycle partner in New Jersey, where the PEVA will get broken down to be reused for durable plastics (think: shoe soles, gym mats—items that are tough and long-lasting). “Once we have a large enough audience, we’d love to have recycling centers across the U.S. to keep the process as local as possible,” shares Young. While it’s only been a month, I’m confident I won’t need to whip out the bleach again.