A young woman was parked at the dumpster behind the mall in Hopkinsville a few days ago. She was reaching through the open doors of the bin and digging industriously. I didn't see her take anything out, but obviously she thought there was a good chance of finding something useful.
If I were ever to try dumpster diving, I guess I'd look for a dumpster like this one. I'm sure the mall stores sometimes discard salvagable items, and most of the trash would be dry so it shouldn't smell too bad.
Some people check the dumpsters at grocery stores for food. I consider that to be hard-core dumpster diving. I prefer that my food come from inside the store. On occasion, I might buy a package of marked-down beef if it still looks good. I don't really want to get any closer than that to salvaged food.
My own trash salvaging has been limited to picking up lumber piled on the curb for the garbage truck. This was very humiliating to my children. They were afraid that their friends would drive by and see their nutty mother throwing plywood scraps into the back of the truck. In deference to their sensitivities, I passed up a lot of perfectly good lumber.
Nowadays, I don't have the kids along to restrain me, but I drive a little car instead of a little truck. It doesn't work very well for hauling, so I'm still passing up lots of useful pieces of lumber. I wouldn't have time to make anything with it, anyway, but it always pains me to see it headed for the landfill.