There are two distinct camps when it comes to Christmas trees. And no, I’m not talking about rainbow-colored lights versus white lights.

There are those that prefer the natural pine scent and elegant beauty of a freshly-cut live tree and those that opt for the convenience, cost-effectiveness and ease of the artificial tree. Today, we let each side make its case and look at five factors in determining which better suits your taste.

Cost

Artificial trees can be significantly more cost-effective. It is a one-time purchase that can be used for many years, as long as a decade. Whereas a typical faux tree runs between $200 and $250, a live tree costs $50 to $80 (sometimes over the $100 threshold), and that investment is required every year.

Environment

On the surface, cutting down a fully-grown tree for a few weeks of decor and then disposing of it seems like a huge environmental waste. But artificial trees, in the grand scheme, harbor their own environmental pitfalls. Live trees are easily recyclable and grown specifically for the holiday time-frame. While buying a fake tree and reusing it for multiple years does save those real trees, once they reach the end of their life, artificial trees cannot be recycled and end up in landfills.

Ease

Curved trunks, wobbly stands, and uneven branches can make mounting a real tree a major headache. Then there’s the daily watering that is required, the clean-up of the needles as they die and fall off, and the hassle of disposing of a dead tree when all is said and done. Artificial trees, especially the pre-lighted ones, make set-up simple and easy. It can be a one-person job, done in a few minutes. And when the holidays wrap up, simply disassemble back into its box, and store 'til next year.

Economy

Most fresh cut trees are locally grown and harvested whereas most fake trees are imported from countries like China. Purchasing a live tree from your neighborhood farmer puts that money directly back into your local community and supports their small business. Purchasing a fake tree sends money overseas and into large multi-national corporate coffers.

Safety

Ironically, which is a lower fire risk is not so clear cut. Some artificial trees, since they are made from PVC, can easily ignite and burn quickly. Others are specifically treated with flame retardants. The flammability of a live tree changes as it ages. A fresh, fully-watered tree may not easily burn. But once it ages and dries out, the greater the risk for catching fire. Artificial trees are also ideal for families dealing with allergies, and their lighter weight and custom-built frames do more to prevent tips and injuries.

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