Last week, I read an article by Vijay Kolinjivadi, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Antwerp, who describes himself as, “ …an academic, living in a 'hip' part of Montreal and engag(ing) in activities that follow a particular aesthetic ethos…”

Kolinjivadi described a new LEED-certified, so-called sustainable campus being built adjacent to what he called, “one of Canada's poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods.” You and I know that probably means folks from away, originating outside of current North American borders, probably with skins of a darker hue.

This shiny new campus is being touted for its amazingly low carbon footprint and the upscale nature of it's eco-friendly design. Developers say the site will invite new tenants with money and creative ideas into the area.

Kolinjivadi suggests it will also inspire the current residents and businesses – the grocery stores, community centers, and purveyors of halal foods – to move elsewhere.

As if there is an elsewhere.

The social and – yes – environmental impacts of so-called-green economic growth are collateral damage in the race to prove we can have our profits and the planet, too. It's not politics; it's business.

Energy efficiency should be a good thing. If we use less energy to heat our homes, we should be harvesting fewer essential bits of the planet. But experience proves otherwise.

The cars we drive, heat pumps we install, triple-paned windows and hyper-insulated walls where we live – all these projected improvements haven't slowed our consumption or diminished the volume of waste that piles up in places we try not to see.

Instead, we reap the benefit of our pretended efficiencies in the form of more stuff. Instead of making things here, we export technologies to other places, often also with populations of a darker hue, where the resources still get mined, the energy still gets used, the garbage still fills the air and the land and the water.

The fastest-growing segment of the waste stream worldwide is electronic waste. E-waste includes the large household appliances tossed in the latest kitchen remodel and the smaller ones such as toasters, coffee makers, irons and hairdryers designed to last no more than 10 years.

Computers of all sizes, whether they fit in a pocket or fill a large office space, are made with heavy metals that we know are toxic, such as lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium. No matter where we send them, when they no longer run the increasingly complex software we didn't even need a decade ago, these materials will not degrade into healthy soil, not in our lifetimes and not in the lives of our children's children.

Neither will the televisions hiding in our storage units, power tools, fluorescent lamps and unused medical equipment we deposit in landfills or incinerate into our atmosphere.

Then, there are toys.

Last week, I bought a new charging cable for my cellphone. In addition to the old cable, made of plastic and metal, I disposed of a cardboard box, a bit of plastic designed as a hanger for store display, a sheet of plastic used to make a window so purchasers can see what's in the box and two small pieces of metal – both embedded in layers of the cardboard.

One was a magnet and the other a slab of steel to hold the magnet so the box can open, I can look through the plastic window at the cable, and then let the cardboard door close with a satisfying snap. None of this rigamarole actually opened the package, which was secured by more plastic in the form of sticky seals.

Of all of this packaging, the only thing remotely recyclable is the cardboard, and that only after I peeled off the plastic window and dug out the magnet and its related bit of steel. Even the cardboard is an illusion of recyclability; only 65% of paper waste is recycled and that's the big success story. Plastic and metal and glass all hover at around 30%.

What we do recycle is processed using the same resources we might be trying to save, and much of the work is being done in those same, far away places where people of darker hue do the work we in North America don't want to even see being done.

Growth is not sustainable. Those who tell you it can be done are either fooling themselves or trying to fool you. We have what we need to sustain human life on earth; much of it is in storage units like the one that holds my three beds, seven bookcases, two nightstands and dozens of boxes of books, dishes, cookware and lamps. My wealth, such as it is.

They say that when you point a finger at someone, you're pointing the other three at yourself. I'm doing that now. We're all responsible for this unsustainable situation. I'm not sure we can change our path. Maybe we can start with the toys.