dumpster diver
(DUMP.stur dy.vur) n. A person who sifts through garbage, particularly a dumpster, looking for valuable or useful items.
dumpter dive v.
dumpster diving pp.

Example Citation:
Tonight, however, Seymour's van follows a proven route, and each dumpster diver has a proven style. Larry has a sweet tooth, and is more of a window shopper — peeking through the Dumpster opening, but rarely climbing in. The gangly Ard is less squeamish, though he uses a stepladder to get in.

There's only one "bottom of the Dumpster" diver on this team, only one who takes literally the dumpster diver's credo: "The best stuff is always at the bottom." Yet for all his abandon, Straight Edge Ben — so nicknamed because he doesn't use alcohol, tobacco or drugs — is the choosiest.
—Lorraine Aheard, "Word for food," The News & Record, January 20, 2002

Earliest Citation:
Rat and Mike call rummaging for food in trash bins behind restaurants dumpster diving.
—Photo caption, Life, July 1983

Notes:
John Hoffman, author of the book The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving wrote to me with a theory about the originator of this phrase:

It is my opinion that a "diver Callaghan" was the originator of the term and he ran a FOOD BANK and was written up in NEWSWEEK or TIME in 1978, 1979, approx, when he got some kind of award from the government.

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