It’s a question that has plagued the industry for years: Is blue checkerboarding a bubble, or is it a trend that is gaining traction?
Blue checkerboards are the most popular and well-known type of decorative board that comes in various styles, shapes, colors and materials.
These ubiquitous products have come under fire for their perceived lack of sustainability, the use of pesticides and other environmental issues.
A new report by The Center for Responsive Politics found that blue checkers accounted for $21.5 billion in sales in the United States last year, while a similar study by the consulting firm McKinsey found that about 80% of blue checkboard companies use chemicals to control pests and other issues.
The firm found that more than half of blue-checker companies that use pesticides and fertilizers to control insects are located in the South, where they are typically more costly to build and maintain.
But blue checkering isn’t just about eco-consciousness, experts say.
The trend has taken off in recent years thanks to the popularity of new types of products, such as the “lighter-weight” version of a standard checker board, or the “light” version that can be made with more affordable materials.
The new light blue boards have even gained popularity among consumers who prefer less environmentally damaging materials.
Some blue-board companies have taken a more proactive approach, including BlueCheck, a maker of lighter-weight boards, and BlueCheck Light, which offers “Lightweight,” a brand of lighter boards that are lighter than their heavier counterparts.
BlueCheck also has its fair share of detractors, who say that the company is not as responsible for environmental issues as it claims, and that it’s actually using cheaper materials and pesticides in its production process.
Some critics argue that blue-chip companies have a vested interest in using less sustainable materials.
BlueCheck is owned by the New York-based multinational Dow Chemical Co., and Dow has been criticized for the use the toxic chemical polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the manufacturing of its products.
BlueChecks have also come under scrutiny for using cheap plastic, which is less durable and more prone to cracking than wood, according to a 2013 Environmental Working Group report.
Another criticism is that BlueCheck has used recycled blue-collar labor, which the company said it had no involvement in.
And some people are also questioning whether the company has any sort of social responsibility.
Bluecheck also makes a ton of products for companies like Walgreens, but the company’s sustainability programs are limited, said Elizabeth Sonders, an associate professor at Rutgers University.
“They can’t really say what the sustainability standards are for that company,” Sondes told The Daily Beast.
BlueChecks aren’t the only companies to see some success in the new blue-checks market.
In April, the popular “Lemonade” brand took a $1.3 billion bet on the trend, which it said would eventually bring in $3.5 trillion.
BlueLight, a new light-blue checkier board that is less expensive than its lighter counterparts, also made its debut last year.
The popularity of blue boards has also boosted the popularity and investment of other companies.
BlueSpark, a startup that specializes in producing light blue checkertip boards, recently raised $2 billion in a round led by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
But while it’s hard to quantify how many blue checkerbanks have actually been produced, experts estimate that at least 1,500 are currently in production.
That’s not the only trend that blueboard companies are seeing.
Companies are increasingly experimenting with using different materials and materials that are more durable and easier to recycle.
For instance, companies like BlueCheck are also making lighter boards using recycled wood, which can be cheaper than traditional wood.