Appliances break down all the time. Tons of people don't want to pay to dispose of stuff.
Believe me, go by apartment buildings, office buildings, that sort of thing. The local dump probably sells a ton of stuff, or gives it away.
Shops get rid of things, Stages, places like that. Schools toss stuff out. The art of this is improvisation. What you are doing is scrounging
It's treasure, you never know what you'll find.
On a final note:
Photo kiosks sell cameras, strobes and optics.
Hospitals get rid of stuff. These articles are for getting lasers, but you could apply it to getting general equipment from a hospital too. Talk to an engineer and not a resource management guy (the latter want money). Check the "how to get a laser without really trying" sections. http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/laserlps.htm#lpstoc
I must give a disclaimer: if you actually take an interest in dinking around with equipment you need to observe and follow safety guidelines at ALL TIMES.http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/safety.htm
In other words I take no responsibility if you choose to act upon this stuff.
I am not responsible for whatever you may wish do with, for example, the insides of a microwave transformer or CRT television. Please use extreme care and do not attempt anything without proper equipment, and if need be supervision and guidance from a qualified professional. You should have at least a basic education in what you are doing before attempting anything--even if you are being safe you will undoubtedly ruin whatever you're tinkering with if you don't know how it works.
For example, I wish I had taken the time to understand the microcomputer for the cooling system of a particular solid state laser I had picked up (for free--discarded and needed cleaning). But noooooo, I had to get curious and use the thing. I destroyed the flashlamp with overheat. That ended with a LOOOOUUUD explosion and lots of disappointment along with a few days to recuperate my hearing. While the rest of the unit was fine, the flashlamp costs $3800 USD new. Since I don't have that kind of money...I had to sell the unit because I wasn't gonna do jack squat with it.
In general my points are if you don't know what you're doing with it, you probably should not be messing around with it because it'll get you injured or killed. OR at least it will cause destruction of sorts. Safety first. Common sense.