As our behavioral patterns change due to the COVID-19 crisis, our impact on nature and the environment changes too. Pollution levels are showing significant reductions. People are more aware of the importance of access to local green and blue spaces. By analyzing online search behavior in twenty European countries, we investigate how public awareness of nature and the environment has evolved during the COVID-19 crisis. We find that the crisis goes hand in hand with a positive shift in public awareness of nature-related topics, but that awareness of environmental topics remains unaffected. While the decreasing pollution levels and media attention may reduce the overall sense of urgency to tackle pollution problems, the increased experience with local natural resources may strengthen public support for a recovery program that puts the transition towards a more sustainable economic system centrally. © Springer Nature B.V. 2020.