The French village of Pincé in Normandy has got it right. The Maire is proposing to supply two chickens to every household that wants them in a bid to cut down on organic waste. Chickens eat up to 150 kg of food a year. That’s a lot of leftovers they could be converting into eggs – hens lay 200 a year – and handy manure. Chicken poop is wonderful stuff for the garden.

There are many benefits to the scheme. Companionship for lonely, older people is one. Chickens are fascinating birds and become quite friendly. Our Sussex hen, Cynthia, follows me everywhere and allows all of us to stroke her. And when a chicken owner has to go away for a few days, they’ll need to ask a neighbour to look after the poultry, which will get them talking and co-operating. That doesn’t always happen on its own.

I’ve mentioned the eggs already. By providing fresh, free-range eggs to the owners, these chickens will make a small contribution towards decreasing the traffic on the roads since fewer eggs will need to be carted to the shops. And how many times do folks nip out just to buy eggs, which are a fairly crucial foodstuff, using a small amount of fossil fuel and contributing  a few grams of carbondioxide to the atmosphere? Quite a few I’m sure.

With less rubbish to throw away, since it’s being eaten by chickens, households will produce less waste which will mean less going to landfill. That can only be good. A chicken costs a few euro. It costs a lot more than that to remove and dispose of 150 kg of waste produce.

I sincerely hope other villages will copy Pincé’s example and hand out free chickens to people who want to make a real contribution towards greener living.