The Color of Milk

You come to an intersection — a red light means stop and a green light means go.  Yellow, well, there are different schools of thought, but the other two are always the same.  Around here, we have three “trash” bins — one for actual garbage, one for recyclables, and one for compostables.  They’re always black, blue, and green, respectively.  There’s never any doubt — food scraps go in the green bin, bottles and cans in the blue one.  Doesn’t matter whose house you’re at, you know where to scrape your plate.  Unfortunately, not every industry is so considerate.

Take the milk industry, for example.  There are, basically, four types of milk: whole, reduced fat (2%), low-fat (1%), and non-fat.  Now, the caps on these are always red for whole milk, blue for low-fat, yellow for 2%…  or is it blue for whole milk, red for low-fat…  The problem is, there is no standard across brands and stores.  It’s even possible to be standing in a store looking at two jugs of milk with identically-colored caps and labels, and have them be different types of milk.

Now, imagine you’re a harried parent, in the store with a couple of kids trying to convince you that donuts are actually a vegetable while you’re mentally calculating whether or not you have enough money or if you should put the chicken back when you find yourself in front of the milk case.  You need two gallons of low-fat milk but they’ve rearranged the shelves again.  Instead of being able to just grab two jugs with light-blue caps, you have to stop and read labels to figure out which bottles are the ones you’re looking for.  While you’re doing that, the baby has run off and the middle child has managed to open the box of cereal and pour half of it on the floor.

Okay, so maybe that’s a little extreme, but not by much.  And how hard would it be, really, to come up with a standard color scheme so that yellow caps and labels always meant non-fat milk and blue caps always meant 2%?  It wouldn’t cost a thing and it would save parents a lot of time and frustration — and, after all, who are the biggest purchasers of milk?  Parents.  So, are you listening, milk producers?  Do your customers, and yourselves, a favor and standardize your colors!

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