IT'S by no means everyone's cup of tea but a world first vertical cemetery in the south-west is continuing to grow in popularity as people seek out more environmentally friendly options. Upright Burials in Derrinallum remains the only vertical cemetery in the world after it opened about 10 years ago. Owned by farmers Tony and Lois Dupleix, Mr Dupleix said initially there was reluctance from a state and local government level to approve the cemetery because there was no precedence for it in the world. He said four hectares of land was bought which was then given to the Crown on the condition it was gazetted as a cemetery and a trust appointed to administer it. "It was a bit of a leap of faith," he said. "We had to assume that the trust were going to manage it in a way that was compatible with our intentions and it has worked out really well. That was one of the reasons why it took us so long to get started. We started working on this in 1984 and were allowed to conduct our first burial in 2010." Mr Dupleix said popularity in vertical burials continued to grow primarily through word of mouth. He said they had sold hundreds of vertical burials for people who had time to plan their funeral. "It's the people that get the diagnosis that they don't want to get and it might be days or it might be years," he said. "They're the people that have the time to look around and they find us. The big difference is what we don't do. Because we're using a biodegradable shroud rather than a coffin we're not tying up and wasting those resources, we're not cremating, we're not embalming, we're not throwing money at a head stone. "The environmental saving comes from its simplicity. For each burial we arrange for a tree to be planted on Mount Elephant just a few kilometres away and in the lifetime of the tree it will sequester more carbon from the atmosphere then we put into it through transportation, refrigeration and decomposition. We think it's about as benign environmentally as it can possibly be." The details of the deceased are recorded on a memorial wall at the cemetery's entrance and family and friends are provided with the exact location of the grave and are welcome to visit anytime. "Quite often loved ones come back on a birthday or the anniversary of the death and things like that," Mr Dupleix said. "We buried a young woman from Wollongong and her mother comes down every year on her birthday and sits in a deck chair with her thermos and lap rug and does an overnight candle vigil by the grave." Mr Dupleix said all types of funerals could be accommodated from religious ceremonies to celebrations of a life well lived. "Generally they've been more casual," he said. "Our cemetery is just a paddock. It's just grassland. There are sheep on there at the moment keeping the grass down. As the graves stabilise they return back to grassland. "We've had full blown religious burials, Aboriginal smoking ceremonies and we've had what you would almost call a party, a true celebration of the passing of the person with music, singing and dance. It's whatever people are comfortable doing we can accommodate." Mr Dupleix said he continued to farm with his wife who also ran a cafe near Camperdown. "There are some years we've done three and some years we've done 20 (burials), neither of which are enough for a viable business," he said. "So when the phone rings I polish the boots, clean my fingernails, go and do a burial and then I might be back doing sheep work that afternoon. It's the cheapest form of burial without being a pauper burial." Mr Dupleix said when the concept was floated in the 1980s there was a lot of negative media interest but over time people had become more open to the idea. "By the time we got to the point to declare ourselves open for business in 2010, community perceptions had changed in that 20-odd years," he said. "It's still not everybody's cup of tea, I acknowledge that. Cremation isn't mine and that's fine. We're providing an alternative for people who want something a little bit different for people who think it's important that their last deed or activity on earth will be one that's kind to the earth."