Your friend is quite accurate in his statement. Apparently bamboo has
been looked at for quite a few years as an alternative for both wood
for paper and cotton for textile uses. Below you'll find a few links
for websites that will give you further information on these uses.
Apparently, no, the processing is not that much different between the
bamboo and the use of wood for making paper, in fact very little
change is required at the mills.
However, the biggest obstacle is that it costs millions of dollars to
build or retrofit a mill from one that consumes wood to one consuming
nonwood. This is where bamboo steps in. Consumption of bamboo pulp
serves to entrench the existing wood-based pulp & paper processing
infrastructure since bamboo, like wood, is fed as chips into pulp
"Making your own paper using bamboo fibers" -- seemed to be a good
look at the processing from a hands-on point of view.. it isn't that
much different than the processing it takes to make home-made paper
from wood fibers.
"The latest trend in the textile industry is in antimicrobial,
antibacterial performance fabrics. Sami-Designs is concentrating on
one particular area in new performance textiles - a new generation of
high performance fabrics. Bamboo fabrics incorporate the technology to
inhibit the growth of microbes and fungus that cause odor." -- this
one has a small leap of logic which is more marketing than fact (I
couldn't find a peer reviewed source to back up the claim, but I
couldn't find one to deny it either. One thing I do know is that
bamboo flooring didn't take off because there are many insects that
will infest the flooring if not treated properly)
Bamboo Clothing Textile Company -- has a photo walk through of the
factory as well as some good images of clothing made from bamboo.