In the late 1930s a new word entered American English: Dumpster. It was a shortened form of the name of a large trash container called the Dumpmaster, made by the Dempster Brothers manufacturing company in Tennessee. Dumpsters soon became the almost universal way of collecting large amounts of waste, and somewhere along the way the redistribution of that waste became known as ‘Dumpster Diving’. Yes, people would walk past a dumpster and see a perfectly good chair in there, climb in and reclaim it. Or books, or lamps, or anything. Now in cities around the world, dumpster diving is the way many street people get their daily meals.
Also along the way, journalists, private detectives and anyone interested in exposing secrets, learned that dumpster diving was also a prime source of useful collateral. Offices would throw out files of private client information, and the trash of Hollywood stars would be raked through for interesting correspondence to sell to the tabloid...
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