Decorated Christmas tree, for rent your Christmas tree storyFor many decades, Americans have had three choices in Christmas trees for their homes during the holiday season: a real, cut tree, an artificial tree or a living tree. Each has its drawbacks.

A real tree turns into a fire hazard and a landfill filler. Artificial trees are made of plastic, made overseas, take up storage space and don't always look that authentic. A living tree needs to be planted afterward.

Now, several firms on the West Coast have taken a new, greener approach to the festivities by renting live trees. The trees are delivered to homes in pots, and picked up after the season is over.At this point, different companies do different things. Some, like the Living Christmas Tree Company, will return the tree to its nursery and keep it healthy for use the following Christmas. Others, like the Original Living Christmas Tree Company, sell the tree to be planted at the end of the season and restock with new trees the following fall.

How does the price compare? There's the rub; a live tree will set you back much more than a dead one. Expect to pay $100-$150 to rent a living tree versus $50-$65 to buy a live one.

If this price is too steep but you still want to be as green as possible this year, consider recycling your cut tree. Treecycling it into mulch or compost or using it for beach erosion prevention and fish habitat will help the environment and the landfills. Since there are, according to Earth911.com, 30 million or more trees sold in North America during the season, that's a lot of mulch to celebrate.

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